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Under what circumstances does a hospital have a duty to provide emergency services to the public?

Under what circumstances does a hospital have a duty to provide emergency services to the public?.

Under what circumstances does a hospital have a duty to provide emergency services to the public? Provide examples from the reading and from sources found through research beyond the assigned reading. Always cite your sources and include in text citations.

End your discussion with a question or two for your classmates.

Respond to two or more of your classmates in a meaningful way, and in a way that brings new content to the conversation.


Hospitals are required to care for patients during all kinds of emergency situations. “If the public is aware that a hospital furnishes emergency services and relies on that knowledge the hospital has a duty to provide those services to the public” (Pozgar, 261). For example, during the recent Covid pandemic hospitals were flooded with patients coming in with the virus and seeking treatment and they could not be refused and turned away. In a clear emergency hospitals have a duty where they must treat every patient that is in clear emergency need no matter if the hospital is public or private. This is down to the EMTALA legislation.

I remember in one of my previous employments there was a very big bus accident that happened here in NYC a while back and many people were injured. The hospital that i worked for was a private hospital and took in most of the patients from this accident and it was a big emergency in the hospital because they did not have enough beds for the patients. This caused the hospital to have to divert some patients to a neighboring hospital to have them treated there. This could pose a moral and ethical issue because the patients risk being transported without being stable enough to do so. I believe even though hospitals have a duty to treat they should be able to put a limit on it so the risk of error is minimized.

Question: If you were an administrator for the hospital’s ED what kind of limitations would you place if any to the kinds of emergency situations that your hospital is equipped to handle?



In Chapter 7 we learned about the EMTALA. EMTALA is known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act which bars any hospitals participating in Medicare for dumping patients (Pozgar et al., p. 196, 2020).  Another added provision of EMTALA is to provide emergency labor services to pregnant women. No pregnant patient can be refused services from a hospital during an emergency labor and delivery process (acep.org, 2021). Hospitals, if they accept Medicare or Medicaid, must provide emergency services to any patient that comes into the hospital. Once the ER deems the patient is stable, the patient can be discharged. Otherwise, the patient has to be admitted to the hospital and be provided appropriate services until they are stabilized and have a safe place to go after discharge.

Some individuals are known as “frequent fliers” of the ER, where they use the ER as primary care services since they don’t have insurance. Due to EMTALA, the ER is obligated to provide treatment to these individuals. Should there be a provision to limit the services provided to ER “frequent fliers “?

Should the hospital instead set up a charity clinic and refer “frequent fliers” to the charity clinic?

Under what circumstances does a hospital have a duty to provide emergency services to the public?

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