Department of Mental Health Advocacy

133/Act 82 Public Meeting

This project grows out of the work of the Data Needs Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the workgroup convened by the Department of Mental Health and Vermont Care Partner in early 2017 to address prolonged waits in Vermont emergency department for people presenting with psychiatric complaints.

Legal Limitations on Hospitals Refusing to Admit Psychiatric Patients

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires that a participating hospital with an emergency department (ED) must provide, upon request, an appropriate medical screening examination, within the capability of the hospital’s ED, to determine whether an emergency medical condition exists, as defined in section 1867 (e)(1) of the Act. (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd.) If an individual has an emergency medical condition, the hospital must provide, within the capabilities of the staff and facilities available at the hospital, treatment to stabilize the condition, unless a physician certifies that the individual should be transferred because the benefits of medical treatment elsewhere outweigh the risks associated with transfer. If a transfer is ordered, section 1867(c) of the Act requires the transferring hospital provide stabilizing treatment to minimize the risks of transfer. A receiving hospital that has specialized capabilities may not refuse to accept an appropriate transfer of a patient who requires such capabilities. (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd(g).)

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