Withholding Emergency Medical Treatment for Inability to Pay Can Be Illegal in Virginia
In 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed by Congress. This act made it against the law for a medical facility to refuse treatment in an emergency situation because the patient was unable to pay. This law is still in effect today, and it covers all types of emergency medical situations, including women who are in active labor. However, some patients are still being denied medical treatment because of an inability to pay, suffering personal injury or even wrongful death as a result.
This appears to have happened to a man in Louisiana who had a heart attack in November 2012. The man went to one medical center where one of his arteries was cleared before he was transported to Ochsner Clinic in Louisiana. The clinic determined a heart transplant was ultimately necessary, but that another device would need to be implanted to keep him alive until then. After they had committed to doing the surgery, and as his health continued to decline, the clinic found out payment for the surgery had been denied, and they postponed the implant. Allegedly, this denial of treatment caused serious damage to his heart and ultimately his death.
The victim’s survivors filed a wrongful death lawsuit in January, 2013 seeking compensation for numerous items, including lost wages, medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life and companionship.
While this particular incident occurred in Louisiana, this type of medical malpractice could just as easily have happened in Virginia. It is similar to a failure to diagnose case in that the patient lost his life because the proper action was not taken. Jim Lewis, one of our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys, fought hard to win a $700,000 jury verdict on behalf of the family of a victim who died as a result of the ER doctor’s failure to diagnose a fatal heart issue.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act does not apply in all situations, so if you think you or a family member have been the victim of this type of medical malpractice, it is important to speak with a VA medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to determine what action should be taken. This type of case has a statute of limitations that limits the amount of time one has to file a claim.
About the Editors: The VA-NC medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro include medical and surgical malpractice lawyers licensed in both Virginia and Carolina. Our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctors’ mistakes, as well as nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see our track record of success in medical malpractice lawsuits, and also be sure to read our free medical malpractice reports Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider and Top 5 Surgical Errors. Attorneys with our firm have been listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2008. Attorneys with our personal injury law firm have also been named Virginia Super Lawyers since 2010, an honor fewer than 5 percent of practicing attorneys receive.