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Hospitals are heavily regulated businesses that must meet the requirements of a plethora of state and federal laws and regulations in order to conduct day-to-day activities. Attorneys working with hospital administrators help ensure hospital practice conforms to the law. This includes ensuring hospital emergency rooms meet the requirements of EMTALA and do not engage in a practice of dumping patients on other hospitals. Contact The Stevenson Law Firm, PC. in Houston, Texas to speak with a health law attorney about your organization’s legal needs.


The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, also known as the Anti-Dumping Act, was created to prevent hospitals from dumping patients who did not have medical insurance and could not pay for treatment onto other hospitals.

The Act requires hospitals to provide a medical examination to any patient that enters its emergency room to determine whether or not the patient has an emergency medical condition or is in active labor. If the patient has an emergency medical condition, the hospital must either treat the condition with its available staff and facilities or if the hospital is unable to do so, stabilize the patient’s condition prior to transferring him or her to another hospital. If the patient is in active labor, the hospital must treat the patient, unless one of the limited exceptions apply.

In order to transfer a patient to another hospital, the receiving hospital must have the space and qualified personnel to treat the patient. Additionally, the hospital must have agreed to accept the transfer and provide the necessary treatment to the patient.

Hospitals can violate EMTALA in one of two ways:

  • Failing to detect the nature of the patient’s emergency because of inadequate screening during examination
  • Failing to adequately stabilize the patient prior to release or transfer to another hospital

Violations of EMTALA can result in civil penalties being assessed against the hospital and the physician who certified the transfer and/or refused treatment. Patients harmed by EMTALA violations can bring a civil claim against the hospital, and in some jurisdictions, against the physician. Other jurisdictions, however, do not recognize a private cause of action against physicians under EMTALA.


If you have legal issues concerning hospital administration, contact an experienced health law attorney at The Stevenson Law Firm, PC. in Houston, Texas today.

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