635 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ^114 ^229 ^232 ^235 In 1986, Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure that everyone who seeks medical help from a hospital emergency department receives appropriate screening and treat- ment, regardless of his or her ability to pay. All hospitals participating in Medicare must meet these requirements. Patient Screening All hospitals that participate in the Medicare program and have a dedicated emergency department must comply with EMTALA’s requirements for patient screening and transfer. jThe regulations define a dedicated emer- gency department as any department or facility of the hospital that meets one of the following criteria: It is licensed by the state as an emergency room or emergency depart- ment. The hospital presents the facility or department to the public as avail- able to provide care for emergency medical conditions without an appointment. In the previous year it provided at least one third of its entire out- patient visits for urgent treatment of emergency medical conditions. Labor and delivery units and psychiatry departments can meet these criteria and, therefore, be covered by EMTALA. Anyone who requests an examination or treatment for a medical condition at the hospital must be provided a screening examination without regard to his or her ability to pay. Under EMTALA, an emergency medical condition is one with symptoms severe enough that, if the patient does not receive Appendix G
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