When it comes to emergency medicine, the general rule is that a person is severe distress should be treated, regardless of their ability to pay. Refusing emergency medical treatment in Albany could open a hospital up to liability. A compassionate ER malpractice attorney could provide answers as to how an emergency room should conduct itself.

What is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act?

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that states that a person cannot be refused medical treatment in the emergency department due to the inability to pay or the lack of health insurance. There are penalties under federal law for a violation of EMTALA. Under certain circumstances, a hospital could be required to pay a statutory penalty, as well as penalties for the harm or injury caused to the patient.

It is difficult to prove that a hospital violated the law by refusing to treat someone who could not pay. Most hospitals will not document this as the reason and will find some other reason to refuse or delay treatment to a patient in Albany.

Connecting the Defendant’s Error with the Cause of Injury

In New York State, a lawyer must prove that the doctor’s deviation from good and accepted medical standards of care was a substantial factor in causing harm or injury to the patient. The phrase “substantial factor” is important to identify. For example, somebody might go into the ER complaining of chest pain, but the staff does not conduct a test, the person is sent home, and the next day the person dies of a heart attack.

The question is: was the failure to treat the patient in the emergency department a substantial factor in causing harm or death to the patient? In this case, there would be medical evidence that if the patient had been treated a day earlier then they could have received medicine to enlarge the blood vessels and perhaps undergo cardiac surgery. Refusing ER treatment would then play a part in this Albany malpractice case.

Proving the Doctor-Patient Relationship was Established

The doctor-patient relationship is typically established by the medical records that show the doctor is treating the patient. But if there is no medical record – such as the emergency department refusing to treat someone at all – then that makes a doctor-patient relationship difficult to prove.

That complicates any legal claim because the record of treatment is generally what a lawyer would rely on to make the case. In that situation, a lawyer would have to find surveillance video showing the patient going to the ER for help and being turned away. These cameras are both inside and outside the ER, including in the parking lot. An attorney could send a preservation letter asking the hospital to preserve all of the video and audio of the patient’s visit, which tells the whole story in a way that a medical record rarely does.

Work with an Attorney if You Were Refused Emergency Medical Treatment in Albany

When someone comes to the ER with severe symptoms, medical staff must treat that person as quickly as possible. If you or a loved one were refused emergency medical treatment in Albany, please schedule a consultation. A lawyer could be your best chance of getting compensation for the harm that followed.