Can a medical facility deny treatment based on an anonymous accusation of substance abuse? Recently I sought treatment at my doctors clinic from an after hours service called 'express care'. I've seen express care doctors in the past, and while unpleasant, they are still nice to see during an asthma attack. While I was suffering from an asthma attack on this occasion, the nurses told me that I can't be seen, when I explained that I was currently having an asthma attack, they told me that it's ok to refuse anyone at any time for any reason. Their words, not mine. I went to the e.r. At the hospital across town (same corporation), they told me after almost 2 hours there during an asthma attack that I can't be treated because they received 'an anonymous call' alerting them that I 'like to abuse' my medications and therefore do not need to be treated. Needless to say I felt a lot of emotions including a great deal of anger and confusion. I believe I know who called the tip in to them, although have no evidence to support my suspicions. What I would like to know is this; can a medical facility legally turn me away based on an anonymous accusation, and what recourse do I have? Do I have Any rights in this instance? Can I press charges against this accuser, and naturally, do I have the right to the identity of the accuser?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Regarding the matter of the hospital, in general, a federal law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act/EMTALA) requires hospitals to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment until the person is stable. This law applies to nearly all hospitals, but not all. The law applies to emergency medical problems, and I suggest you do an online search for ‘EMTALA’ to learn more details of the law.
Based on what you described, I recommend that you confer with a private attorney with no delay regarding the entire situation and what occurred. I suggest you phone several attorneys because it is important you feel great trust with the attorney helping you and advising you.
Tricia Dwyer, Esq.
Tricia Dwyer, Esq. & Associates PLLC
Phone 612-296-9666 every day of the year until 8 p.m. daily
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