EMTALA reports are increasing

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The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law that requires hospitals to provide medical screening examinations to all people who request care in emergency departments, labor and delivery units, and behavioral health access centers.


To strive for better access, and by living our value of Equity, we’re working to eliminate disparities and create opportunities for patients to thrive. We should never encourage patients to go somewhere else for care based on wait times, appearance of injury or severity of patient concern, or based on insurance status or ability to pay.


If caregivers discourage or prevent an individual from getting a medical screening exam, Intermountain may be at risk of an EMTALA violation. Some examples of statements that might discourage a person from staying to receive treatment include:

  • The emergency room is very busy right now, you might want to go somewhere else.
  • The wait time is pretty long.
  • We don’t treat OB/maternity/mental health patients here.
  • Treatment could be expensive; how will you pay for this?
  • We don’t accept your insurance here.
  • Your doctor does not have privileges (or deliver babies) at this hospital; are you sure you want to be seen here?
  • You are early in pregnancy, if you deliver here your baby will be transported to another hospital for care.
  • Your behavior is unacceptable, so the doctor is not going to see you.
  • You are underage and need to return with a parent.

EMTALA does not apply to most of our outpatient clinics, unless located on a hospital campus or within 250 yards of the main hospital buildings. Additional information on EMTALA, including FAQs and links to other tools and resources are available on the Compliance website.


If you have questions about whether EMTALA applies in your work setting contact your local Compliance officer or call the Compliance Hotline at 800-442-4845.