3. ERs don't always provide mandated care
I’m not a big fan of anecdotal leads, but this one, from an investigation by WebMD and Georgia Health News, is worth it.
The short version: A man went to the ER, deteriorated in the waiting room, but still couldn’t get admitted. So he and his wife went out to the parking lot, where an ambulance would pick them up. Paramedics took them around to the ambulance entrance of the same hospital. He was admitted there, but died after an hour.
Federal law requires emergency departments to treat everyone who comes through their doors, but the WebMD/Georgia Health News investigation found significant shortfalls in compliance with that law, known as EMTALA.
By the numbers: The investigation found more than 4,300 EMTALA violations from 1,682 hospitals — about a third of hospitals.
- As a percentage of ER visits, EMTALA violations are very uncommon, as things have to go pretty seriously wrong to trigger a report.
- Hospitals in the Southeast accounted for most of the violations, and Florida had more than any other state.
- The most common violation was failure to do a proper medical screening, and violations are disproportionately concentrated among small hospitals with more limited staffs.
Worthy of your time.