Your Right to Emergency Medical

Care

doctor

We all at one time or another have emergency medical care needs.  There is no reason to feel embarrassed by not knowing your rights. In this article you will be shown Q’s and A’s to your rights to emergency medical care.  Once you know them you will be a much better advocate for your self and the people in your life.

Question:
I have what I think to be an emergency and call the ambulance to come. Can they refuse to take me if I have no insurance?

Answer:

If in your state you have called the emergency number for help, then an ambulance from the nearest location must be sent to you.  Most do not at that point know what your “pay status” is. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can however refuse to take you if they believe you are not in an emergency; and then they need direct physician approval for this.

Question
What do hospitals mean by an “emergency medical condition”?

Answer:

You are having an emergency medical problem if you have any or all the following symptoms:

  • intense pain
  • vomiting
  • bleeding
  • It is reasonable to expect that if you are not treated:
  • Your health would be in serious danger
  • One of your organs or body parts would be damaged
  • A bodily function would be seriously impaired
  • You are a pregnant woman and your unborn child is in the kind of danger described above

A few examples of emergency medical conditions are an
•    asthma attack
•    a broken leg
•    labor contractions
•    chest pains
•    massive bleeding

Question
I have no medical insurance can I get treated in the hospital?

Answer:
Yes by law you have to be treated regardless of whether you can pay or not.  However, the hospital does not have to treat you if it determines that you do not have an emergency condition.

Question:
What is considered “stable” condition, in terms of whether you can be transferred to another hospital or sent home?

Answer:
A condition is considered stable if you can be transferred to home or another hospital and you will not be made worse by the move.  It is up to the doctor treating you to decide whether he has treated you to the point that he can with “reasonable medical judgment” state that your emergency medical condition has been resolved and it is safe to release you.

Question:
Why wouldn’t the ambulance take me to the nearest hospital?

Answer:
Some hospitals are just too full and not able to take any new emergency patients. They “close the doors” till they feel they have the staff and the ability to treat them to the best of their abilities.

Question:
Is there a difference between city fire department ambulances and those from a private company?

Answer:
The big difference is only in the ownership of the ambulances.  The rules pertain to both equally.  They must take you to the nearest hospital or the appropriate hospital for your level of care.  Whether you can pay or not does not come into their judgment.

Question:
What do I do if I feel I have not been treated right and have complaints?

Answer:
You can talk to who is in charge or you can file a complaint.

Question:
Will I get seen right away?

Answer:
Emergency rooms do not treat patients according to the order in which they arrive. When they “triage” a patient they are tagging them from life threatening category down to the least health threat.  The sicker the patient, the needier for care the patient is, the quicker they will get seen.  They simply treat the sickest and most hurt first.

I hope that the Q’s and A’s to your rights to emergency medical care has been helpful to you.  That you will now feel confident in your rights, you will not be embarrassed for pushing the issue that you want to have your rights protected and most of all that you will get the care you need for yourself and your family.

Filed under: General Issues

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