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EMTALA Discussion, Essay Example

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In 1986, the United States Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires participating hospitals to provide unmitigated care to every person who seeks treatment for an emergency medical condition. The act was made in direct response to the increasing amount of uninsured Americans who could not pay for these services and did not qualify for government programs (Saunder, 2010). Virtually all hospitals became subject to the mandate, as it was a requirement in order to receive payments under the Medicare program. EMTALA states that any person, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, or any other characteristic, must be given a fair and equitable assessment when they request emergency treatment at an appropriately equipped medical facility. When the ailment meets established standards that identify an emergency situation, the patient must be given equally appropriate care until the condition is stable or transfer is made to a better-equipped facility (Melkun et al., 2010). Upon receiving treatment, the patient is responsible for the costs and organizations may peruse collection and/or action under civil law.

The obvious primary advantage of EMTALA is the availability of emergency health care to those who would otherwise have no means of access to such services (Brett, 2012). The act is literally life saving in many cases, and can help to ease suffering for both the afflicted and those who have a personal investment in their well being. There are also several apparent disadvantages associated with EMTALA, including the overcrowding of emergency rooms, increased costs to health care organizations, lack of investment from the federal government, and the incurrence of large amounts of debt by those who utilize services under the act (Weiner & Andes, 2010). Despite these risks, the act remains necessary in order to preserve human life in a capitalistic health care environment, and is ultimately beneficial due to this fact alone.

References

Brett, A. S. (2012). Physicians Have a Responsibility to Meet the Health Care Needs of Society. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 40(3), 526-531.

Melkun, E. T., Ford, C., Brundage, S. I., Spain, D. A., & Chang, J. (2010). Demographic and financial analysis of EMTALA hand patient transfers. Hand, 5(1), 72-76.

Sanders, R. (2010). The Problem With EMTALA. Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, 24(6), 346.

Weiner, S. J., & Andes, S. (2010). Predictors of Payment Behavior among the Medically Uninsured: A Prospective Cohort Study of Patients Seeking Ambulatory Services. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 21(4), 1395-1407.

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