The Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act

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In the United States, if you show up at the emergency room you can see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. This right is protected by the Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act (EMTALA), passed by Congress in 1986 (Terp et al., 2016). This act was in response to the large number of critically-ill patients who were being turned away from emergency rooms because of the economic status. Today, the purpose of EMTALA is still to prevent emergency rooms from “patient dumping”, or turning away critically-ill patients because they are uninsured (Rosenbaum, Cartwright-Smith, Hirsch, & Mehler 2012). EMTALA requires that every patient who arrives at the emergency room is given an initial screening, is treated until stabilized, and has the right to be transferred to a hospital with the correct level of care for their condition, regardless of their ability to pay (Rosenbaum et al., 2012).
However, most of America has also experienced the overcrowding of emergency rooms and have personally experienced the long wait times. Though no research finds a direct cause between EMTALA and overcrowding, long wait times are inevitably discussed any time the EMTALA policy is brought up. However, it certainly does not help that the U.S. has 45 million uninsured individuals who do not have access to primary care and are forced to turn to the emergency department for any kind of medical attention (Monga, Keller, & Venters, 2014). Additionally, of

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