Risk Management

EMTALA Overview for Ophthalmologists

EMTALA On-Call Duties.103117

Anne M. Menke, RN, PhD

OMIC Patient Safety Manager

Version 10/31/17

Ever since it was passed by Congress in 1986, EMTALA—the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act—has played a major role in determining how hospitals and physicians treat patients in the emergency room (ER).[1] This discussion is designed to provide ophthalmologists with an overview of the aspects of the current federal regulations that most impact them. Prior regulations, or aspects of EMTALA that are unlikely to apply to ophthalmologists, such as determining if a woman is in labor, are not addressed. For ease of use, this discussion is organized in a question and answer format and contains legal information from attorneys with special expertise in this arena. At times, the legal situation is not clear. In those instances, ophthalmologists should exercise their medical judgment and prioritize patient safety.

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