EMTALA is the short form for Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. This policy was enacted to protect people undergoing emergence care. In 1986, EMTALA was developed and was considered one of the crucial health rights. This law stated that all individuals should be treated or cared for even if they cannot pay for the services. This law applies when a patient comes into the emergency department. However, just like any other policy, it comes along with pros and cons. Some of them are discussed below:
Pros of EMTALA
1. Exclusive emergence care: EMTALA provides complete emergency care to people with essential emergence services. The program ensures those who come to the hospital receive quality treatment to ease the emergence condition. This policy helps avoid complicated procedures that occur when clearing and treating a patient.
2. Stabilization of medical condition: When a patient visits the hospital, the emergency condition is screened; if there exists an emergency condition, the hospital tries to stabilize this condition. Screening helps to locate the areas to be treated, and thus doctors rely on this part before treating the condition. The policy helps in ensuring quality stabilization is done properly and convincingly.
3. Easy Hospital transfers: EMTALA eases the transfer protocol. If the hospital cannot handle the patient, they can be transferred to the nearest hospital with the required tools and equipment for treatment. Before transfer, the patient can get first aid treatment and transport means from the hospital they have to be transferred from.
4. Promote equality: All patients are equally treated under this policy. Under this policy, all patients can access emergency treatment regardless of their financial position. Therefore, it promotes equality for all patients.
5. Life-Saving plan: The core aim of this policy is to save lives and reduce the occurrence of death. EMTALA is crucial in emergency response and treatment. Through this plan, people can be treated faster and more satisfyingly, hence saving their lives. In addition, bleeding and broken fractures are handled to prevent further damages. Under this plan, the patient does not pay before treatment. Therefore all people are entitled to equal emergency treatment, whether rich or poor.
6. Protection against private hospital violations: Private hospitals aim to provide services to patients and raise money. Therefore, they are likely to mishandle a poor patient and seek emergency treatments. This policy ensures that patients transferred from private hospitals to public hospitals have undergone medical screening examinations. It ensures patients have received the first aid treatments before being transferred.
7. Followed strictly: EMTALA is a law that is followed strictly, and thus violating it can result in imprisonment or a fine. Due to these laws protecting EMTALA, all hospitals follow and recognize the policy.
8. Transfers requests: Patients can request a transfer by writing under this policy. When the need to move to another hospital arises, the patient can easily be transferred to the other hospital of their choice. It helps to minimize the protocols and procedures involved in the policy that did not exist.
10. Medical benefits: EMTALA policy guarantees patients’ medical benefits and quality treatments. Under this policy, doctors are directed to certify the treatments and transfers. If the hospital in question cannot handle the emergency, they can transfer the patient to the next hospital.
11. Patients’ records are maintained: Under this policy, patients’ records are vital, and therefore they should be protected and be maintained. These records may later be used in analyzing the condition of the patient.
Cons of EMTALA
1. EMTALA is unfunded: EMTALA policy is just a law; hence it is not funded. It raises issues during its implementation as many hospitals ignore it. Private hospitals greatly oppose this policy. Their services go in hand with payment, and thus this policy may hinder its business.
2. Not suitable in low-income areas: Areas below par cannot embrace this policy. The policy may cripple the hospital financially as many people receive free treatment. Therefore, the policy can only be adopted in areas where people are wealthy, and income is high.
3. Violation of the policy: Gross violation of EMTALA is common. Many doctors and hospitals can violate or ignore the policy and go unpunished. Minimal government follow-up in ensuring the policy is strictly followed contributed to this.
4. The issue of overcrowding: overcrowding in hospitals and geographical areas around the hospital has weakened the policy. The number of people requesting services is higher than the existing number of hospitals. Therefore, the policy is not strictly followed. In addition, some of the laws stipulated in the policy are not achievable in third-world countries.
5. Contribute to hospital financial problems: The EMTALA policy states that patients should receive emergency treatments whether they can pay for the services or not. The policy does not protect the hospital’s financial position; it only cares about the well-being of the patient. Therefore, if the hospital follows the EMTALA laws keenly, it will likely experience financial problems.
6. Hospital administrative problems: The violation of EMTALA laws may lead hospitals into great trouble. The administration and other hospital officials are charged and can be fined. If they are sacked, the new administration may not run the hospital as required, which may be a great challenge in the development of the hospital.
7. Sometimes insurance is required: In some Hospitals, the insurance cover is required before undergoing emergency treatments. Therefore, it limits services to only those with health insurance covers: other hospitals require a minimal deposit before undergoing the treatments. It violates the EMTALA policy and limits poor people from receiving the services.
8. It is not recognized by all parts of the world: it’s only recognized in certain regions.
In conclusion, the policy is important to the health sector, but it has numerous drawbacks to be fixed for effectiveness. Patients need to receive emergency services when they are in critical condition. Additionally, the approach helps to save lives hence preventing certain deaths. However, a good thing has its downdsides. EMTALA comes with financial issues.