Does the ER have to treat you? Can they OUTRIGHTrefuse to evaluate you even though you have insurance and are willing to pay?

Asked about 5 years ago - Chattanooga, TN

I presented to the ER 9 months after having my baby with a psychotic episode and the ER refused to even take me as a patient. I asked to see an MD and was outright denied. The charge nurse said the ER doesn't take "crazy" people. I am a registered nurse and felt that they should have tried to help me.... at least evaluate me! I was having suicidal thoughts, which were only worsened by the embarrassment ands harrassment of the ER staff. Since this episode I have been trying to take care of things on my own. I no longer have trust in the medical system and am shocked and awed that a paying patient can be turned away from an ER like that..... not only once, but twice that same night. Do I have a malpractice case? I felt my patient's bill of rights was horribly violated.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Elizabeth Taylor Herd

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . I am licensed in TN, but do not actively practice there and can offer you only general advice. Call Sid Gilreath in Knoxville if you are looking for specific advice. An emergency room cannot deny care for emergent life threatening conditions. There is a Federal Act called EMTALA that applies to certain cases. However, an ER provider has the right to deny routine care to patients because they are not equipped to handle providing either primary medicine care or psychiatric care. Having said that, if you were in a psychiatric crises you may have a claim. I think the determination that may need to be made is whether you suffered damages flowing from any refusal to provide necessary care.

    Betsey Herd
    Tampa, Florida

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