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Can I Sue A Hospital For Refusing To Treat Me?


If a hospital refused to treat you, you might be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages. Under federal law, all hospitals that participate in Medicare are required to provide emergency treatment to patients who need it, even if the patient is uninsured or cannot pay.

Are Hospitals Required to Provide Medical Treatment?

Yes, qualifying hospitals are required to provide medical treatment when a patient has a condition that meets the definition of an “emergency medical condition” under EMTALA.

EMTALA stands for the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. EMTALA defines an emergency medical condition as a condition that:

  • Manifests itself by acute and severe symptoms; and
  • If left without immediate medical attention, it could reasonably result in serious impairment to the patient’s bodily functions, put the patient’s health in serious danger, or cause a severe dysfunction of a body part or bodily function.

Under federal law, a hospital cannot release or transfer a patient with a qualifying emergency medical condition to any other facility until the patient’s condition has stabilized.

However, a hospital cannot refuse further treatment or release the patient due to a discriminatory reason. If a hospital or doctor refused to treat you because of your protected characteristic, such as race or color, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit.

When Hospitals Can Lawfully Deny Emergency Room Treatment

Under certain circumstances, patients can be lawfully denied emergency room treatment. Reasons for denying emergency medical care include:

  1. The patient with addiction exhibits a classic “drug-seeking behavior”;
  2. The patient is delusional and thinks that they have a serious condition when they actually don’t; or
  3. The patient poses a danger to hospital staff or other patients in the waiting room.

However, if a doctor or hospital refuses to treat you for whatever reason, it is always best to consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate your particular situation.

When Private Doctors Can Deny Treatment

Private doctors are not required to comply with EMTALA, which means they can refuse to treat patients for almost any reason and at any time. The only exception is when a private doctor denies treatment based on a discriminatory reason.

Some of the reasons private doctors can lawfully refuse to treat patients include:

  • The doctor is not accepting new patients;
  • The patient cannot afford the cost of medical treatment;
  • The patient is manifesting dangerous or disruptive behavior; or
  • The doctor does not work with the patient’s health insurance company.

However, if your medical condition worsens due to a private doctor’s refusal to continue to treat you, you may have grounds to sue them for medical malpractice. Discuss your specific situation with our attorney at Carroll Law Firm. Call 404-816-4555 to schedule a consultation.

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