A 13-year employee of a regional hospital in Pennsylvania, who at times worked as director of acute care services and quality project coordinator, filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer on October 22, 2013, alleging that she was told to leave the hospital premises on October 26, 2012 and then fired five days later, after she insisted that instances of poor patient care in the hospital be reported to the Department of Health and Patient Safety Authority.
In one instance, the former employee alleges that the transfer of a pregnant patient to another hospital was done without the necessary notifications, which required the matter to be reported to the Department of Health and Patient Safety Authority.
In another instance of alleged poor patient care, the former employee insisted that grossly negligent medical care which led to the death of an ICU patient must be reported to the Department of Health and Patient Safety Authority.
A third instance of alleged inadequate care that the former employee insisted had to be reported to the Department of Health and Patient Safety Authority involved a patient who developed skin ulcers and necrotic areas on her finger and above and around her lip due to negligent care received in the hospital.
The former employee alleges in her federal lawsuit that the CEO of the hospital stated to her “that there would be no investigation” and that “this would be a ‘million dollar lawsuit’ if the patient’s family were to find this out.”
The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court and alleges that the hospital administrators violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act with regard to the transfer of the pregnant woman to another hospital and alleges violations of other laws.
What Is The Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act?
The Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, which is referred to as EMTALA, was enacted by Congress in 1986. EMTALA ensures public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay. Section 1867 of the Social Security Act imposes specific obligations on Medicare-participating hospitals that offer emergency services to provide a medical screening examination (“MSE”) when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition (“EMC”), including active labor, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented.
If the allegations of the Pennsylvania hospital’s former employee are substantiated, we would hope that the results of her federal lawsuit will be impactful enough so that hospitals will not shirk their legal responsibilities in the future to provide care and services to those who arrive at their facilities needing emergency medical services — all patients are entitled to nothing less.
If you or a loved one received inadequate or negligent care from a hospital, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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