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Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA)

Guidance for the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA).

Final

Issued by: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Issue Date: March 26, 2012

In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure 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.

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