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Medical Legal: Review of Emergency Medical Treatment & Active Labor Act (EMTALA)


The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), often called the “anti-dumping law,” was passed by Congress to prevent patients from being refused treatment or being transferred to another hospital when they are unstable. This paper summarizes the basic concepts of EMTALA and is taken directly from the EMTALA website and the EMTALA Section of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) website. It discusses appropriate medical screening, women in active labor, components of an appropriate transfer, obligations of hospitals and physicians, and penalties. The salient points are outlined below.