Fines associated with a violation of the emergency medical treatment and active labor act are often not clear. It is almost always the case that fines handed out are on a patient by patient basis. There is not a common set amount hospitals are penalized for violating the emergency medical treatment and active labor act. Hospitals are held accountable with steep fines for violating this act. In addition to fines, hospitals that violate this act must pay for injuries of patients that suffer personal injury. While the fines vary from case to case, hospital are expected to learn from their mistakes in order to avoid future penalty.
If a hospital fails to meet its obligations under EMTALA, then it can be held liable for any damages suffered by the patient. Under New Mexico’s interpretation of the Act, the patient can make a prima facie showing a violation of the Act if the patient proves that the hospital deviated from its standard screening procedure. Or a violation can occur if the hospital determined there was an emergency medical condition and then failed to stabilize the patient or transfer the patient pursuant to the Act’s rules set forth in subsection C of the Act. There is no requirement that the patient prove the hospital was malicious or had an improper motive when the hospital violated EMTALA. Further, there is no requirement that the patient prove that she/he was treated differently than other patients (disparate treatment).
If a hospital violates EMTALA it could face fines of up to $50,000 (for over 100 beds) for each violation and is responsible for any personal injuries caused to the patient as a result of the violation. The violating hospital can also be responsible for any financial loss suffered by another hospital if, for example, the violating hospital improperly transfers the patient. The personal injuries include all damages available in New Mexico. Similarly, a doctor that violates certain provisions of EMTALA could face fines of up to $50,000, but a doctor is not liable for personal injuries to the patient.
Hospitals are required to abide by EMTALA in order to keep patients safe and in good care. While $50,000 does not seem like a steep enough fine, it adds up if a hospital has more than one violation. What is most concerning for a hospital is if a doctor individually is fined as this could really hurt the doctor.
If you feel a hospital that treated you violated the EMTALA act feel free to reach out to us. We can be reached at 505-242-7200.