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A Better Partnership

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Oct 2009
22
October 22, 2009

H1N1 E-Bulletin

As anticipated, the H1N1 influenza has resulted in a significant surge in demand for emergency services from hospitals across the State. As hospitals adjust to these demands and explore alternatives to accommodating the increased patient load, they must ensure their emergency departments continue to comply with the requirements under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).

In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum to clarify the permissible options and flexibility under EMTALA in light of the anticipated surge in demand for services. Among other things, the fact sheet notes that an EMTALA-mandated medical screening examination does not require an extensive work-up in every case, and that the medical screening examination may take place outside the emergency department, at other sites on the hospital's campus.

The fact sheet also summarizes the provisions governing EMTALA waivers, which allows the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain requirements following a declaration of emergency by President Obama. If a waiver is issued, hospitals may direct or relocate individuals to an alternative off-campus site, in accordance with the State pandemic preparedness plan.

The CMS fact sheet is available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/downloads/SCLetter09_52.pdf

Should you have any questions regarding EMTALA compliance this flu season, please contact one of our health care attorneys.

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