The United States Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to reduce and eliminate the number of patients denied medical treatment. In particular, Congress was concerned about the number of patients denied medical treatment because of their inability to pay. Under the EMTALA, most hospitals receiving federal funding for Medicare can’t deny medical treatment to patients experiencing symptoms or in labor.
Even so, Kentucky’s hospitals and doctors still unlawfully deny medical care to patients in need. For those patients, they may be wondering, Can I sue a hospital if they denied my medical treatment?
Can I Sue a Hospital If They Denied My Medical Treatment?
Whether you have a valid claim against a hospital that denied your medical treatment depends on the factors. These factors must have been at play and include:
- If you were seeking emergency medical care,
- If you were displaying symptoms at the time,
- If your symptoms were serious or labor symptoms,
- Whether the hospital has an emergency room department,
- Whether the hospital receives federal funds,
- Whether you suffered (or your loved one died) because the hospital denied medical treatment,
- Whether the deadline for filing a lawsuit against a hospital has passed, and
- The law at play when you were denied medical treatment.
The law and facts at play guide whether you may have a claim against a hospital for denying you medical treatment.
The best way to determine if you have a claim against a hospital is to speak to a medical malpractice attorney. They know what evidence to look for in evaluating possible claims. Medical malpractice attorney Seth Gladstein has almost 20 years of experience litigating medical malpractice cases. His experience defending hospitals and doctors in New York benefits victims. He is familiar with the terminology and strategy that defendants use. This makes him an invaluable asset to medical malpractice victims.
Does the Law Require Hospitals to Provide Medical Treatment to Everyone Who Requests Services?
The short answer is no. Federal and Kentucky laws do not require hospitals to provide medical care to everyone who requests medical services. That said, the law requires that Medicare-participating hospitals provide emergency care to patients upon request if the patient is experiencing serious symptoms. Specifically, the patient must be experiencing symptoms of a serious condition or be going into labor at the time. In either case, hospitals that choose to provide care must not be negligent when doing so.
When Can a Hospital Deny a Patient Medical Treatment?
Hospitals and doctor’s offices may refuse to provide patients with medical treatment in some situations. It primarily depends on:
- The reason that they are denying medical treatment to a patient,
- The circumstances in which they are denying medical treatment,
- The federal funding that they receive and for what, and
- The impact of the refusal to provide medical treatment on your health.
If the patient is seeking care purely to acquire drugs, for example, then the hospital may lawfully refuse medical treatment.
Furthermore, if the medical treatment is for routine care, then a private hospital may not have to provide you with medical treatment.
Hospitals and doctor’s offices may not refuse medical treatment to patients solely based on discriminatory reasons. Those reasons include:
- Sexual orientation,
- Disability, and
If the hospital denied medical treatment to a patient because of those reasons, then the patient may be able to file a lawsuit against the hospital.
Contacting a medical malpractice lawyer is your best chance to discover, preserve, and defend your claim against the hospital.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Negligence Lawsuit Against Hospital
There are many reasons to sue a hospital, but most fall into the category of medical malpractice. So what are the elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital? The theory of negligence forms the basis for most medical malpractice lawsuits. Negligence requires that the plaintiff prove that the following are at play:
- Duty of care,
- Breach of duty of care,
- Injury, and
In addition, Kentucky’s medical malpractice plaintiffs need to have a medical expert review and verify the medical malpractice claim. To file a medical malpractice claim with the court, plaintiffs must provide a certificate of merit indicating that at least one expert supports the claim.
Duty of Care
To prevail on a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must first prove that the hospital owed them a duty of care. Typically, all hospitals and medical professionals owe patients a duty of care. Doctors and hospitals must, for example, follow standard procedures and laws in deciding whether to treat a patient.
As we talked about before, the law requires that federally funded hospitals (even private ones) with an emergency room provide care to patients who are showing symptoms or are in labor.
Breach of Duty of Care
Next, plaintiffs need to prove that the hospital or doctor did not meet their duty of care. This could mean showing that the hospital denied medical treatment upon request in a situation where the law required them to provide care.
For example, if a pregnant woman in labor seeks emergency medical care, she cannot be denied medical care by the hospital. Or a hospital may not turn away a patient showing textbook signs of a stroke.
Additionally, the patient must show that they suffered an injury because the hospital denied medical treatment to them. In most cases, the injury must be related to or a foreseeable consequence of the denial of medical treatment. For example, the man showing textbook signs of a stroke, had a terrible stroke and crashed his car on the way to another hospital. Or the pregnant woman had childbirth complications that could have been avoided if the hospital had provided timely medical care.
Finally, the plaintiff must show that the hospital or doctor’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury. If the plaintiff can’t show a causal connection between the breach and the plaintiff’s injury, then they may not have a valid claim.
The best way to help discover if you have a valid medical malpractice claim is to contact a lawyer. They know what evidence to look for and what you need to do to prove your case.
Attorney Seth Gladstein Is Here for You
For almost 20 years, Seth has litigated medical malpractice cases. Shortly after getting his law license, he began working at a large medical malpractice law firm. His work included defending well-known hospitals in these often complex cases. He leverages this experience to provide unrivaled representation to victims of medical malpractice. Having worked on the defense side, he has a unique perspective on and understanding of hospital practices and procedures. He uses this knowledge to help tailor an effective, pointed, and swift strategy to help victims maximize their recovery. Give Seth a call, or contact him online today.