Woodbridge, VA asked in Personal Injury, Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice for Virginia

Q: Can a ER doctor tell a patient they can NOT come to the ER and give them a LIST of items they cant be seen there for ?

Hello, Can you please let me know if a patient is disabled and injured and got to the nearest ER for an unrelated problem, can the ER Doctor make a list of items ( symptoms ) they can NOT come there for ? The patient is suffering from a chronic condition. The pateint has a mass on back under skin and went to ER. The ER doctor did XRAY and found concerns. The ER doctor stresses to return if patient has fever or pain/stiffness spreads . Following day patient return only to be AMBUSHED by a HOSTILE, aggressive, new doctor a 3 people in a small room and without patient was told not to ever ever return to ER with a list of items. Patient did not ask for any medication or even speak. NO Exam. The doctor made a list. Neck pain. Back pain, Hip Pain, Groin Pain, Thigh Pain, ect... Patient is suffering mental trauma and excessive stress from this attack. I do not think making a verbal list of things should be allowed ? Is the LIST allowed and does this violate patient rights at public hospital

2 Lawyer Answers

Anthony M. Segura

  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Roanoke, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: I'm sorry that someone wasn't treated well at the hospital. In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act 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 when a request is made for examination or treatment for an emergency medical condition, regardless of an individual's ability to pay. Hospitals are then required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with emergency medical conditions.

In your fact pattern, the hospital may defend itself against an EMTALA claim by providing that the condition was not emergent. The secondary question is whether the healthcare provider acted reasonably in their treatment of the patient. While the patient felt distressed by the doctor's instructions not to return, it does not appear that the patient's medical condition was exacerbated by the delay in treatment. Because the damages claimed from this act are limited, this may be a situation where it would be more prudent to work with a patient advocate or writing the hospital administration than pursue a medical malpractice case.

Timur Akpinar


A: I'm sorry for your being treated like this. If you are able to arrange a consultation, an attorney would be likely to have further questions regarding statements made here by the hospital staff.

Tim Akpinar

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