Many of you might not be familiar with the term “patient dumping,” but this unethical and illegal phenomenon has become commonplace at hospitals in Philadelphia and all across Pennsylvania.
So what is “patient dumping” and can it actually happen to you? Patient dumping is the term used to describe a situation when a patient comes to a hospital with a medical emergency and in need of urgent medical care, but because of his or her inability to pay or provide insurance, is denied emergency medical screening and stabilization services.
Patient dumping also refers to situations when a hospital, after discovering that a patient is unable to afford the cost of medical treatment or does not have insurance coverage, transfers that patient to another hospital, which can be miles away. As you can imagine, the patient’s medical condition can get significantly worse during the forced transfer to another hospital.
“Patient dumping is both unethical and illegal,” says our Philadelphia patient dumping attorney at The Weitz Firm, LLC. “What many Americans do not realize is that there is a federal law prohibiting hospitals that receive Medicare funding from denying treatment to patients with no insurance coverage or no means to pay for the treatment.”
That federal law is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan back in 1986. If you were “dumped” by a hospital taking part in Medicare, you may be entitled to monetary compensation by filing a complaint under the EMTALA.
The problem is, however, that most uninsured or low-income patients who get inappropriately released from the hospital or are forced to drive to another hospital either do not know their rights under the EMTALA or are too embarrassed to file a complaint.
Luckily, you can speak to our experienced patient dumping attorney from Philadelphia who can help you understand your rights and help you sue the hospital or individual medical professional who refused to treat you under the legal theory of medical malpractice.
In a nutshell, the EMTALA provides that any hospital taking part in Medicare cannot deny medical care regardless of the patient’s ability or inability to pay. Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, even if a patient does not carry insurance or is unable to pay for medical treatment, he or she must be at least stabilized before being discharged from the hospital.
In fact, there are harsh fines and penalties for violations of EMTALA. Our Philadelphia patient dumping lawyer says that hospitals that “dump” patients for their inability to pay can lose Medicare funding, which provides millions of dollars in revenue annually for most hospitals in our country.
Under the EMTALA, a hospital must conduct appropriate medical screening and testing to assess your medical condition regardless of your ability to pay. If the screening exam reveals a medical emergency condition, the hospital does not have the right to deny medical care. Instead, that hospital is required by the EMTALA to provide stabilizing treatment or ensure an appropriate transfer to another hospital or medical facility unless there is a risk that the transfer can negatively affect the patient’s condition.
As for the penalties, if a hospital has more than 100 beds, it will be required to pay a $100,000 fine for EMTALA violations. If a hospital has less than 100 beds, it will be required to pay a fine of around $50,000. If you were treated by a doctor and a patient-physician relationship was established before the hospital “dumped” you, you may be able to sue that doctor and hospital for medical malpractice.
Let our medical malpractice attorneys from The Weitz Firm, LLC, evaluate your case and help you get justice and recover damages. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation. Call at 267-587-6240.