Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (3)11 Aug 95


   Quick Summary: The EMTALA does not create a right to sue for negligence. The EMTALA only gives the right to sue for being let go before being screened and stabilized for the presenting emergency condition.  The court did not rule in this case whether or not it was negligent for the hospital to have discharged this patient.

   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina threw out a suit against a hospital filed under the EMTALA. The patient was seen for a head injury from a fight. His head laceration was stapled and he was admitted to the hospital for observation for more than eleven hours before being discharged in stable condition.

It turned out four days later that he developed a cerebral herniation due to hematoma, and died. The court noted that he had been suffering from "substance abuse" when he was seen in the hospital.  Vickers vs. Nash General Hospital, Inc., 875 F. Supp. 313 (E.D.N.C., 1995).