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Atmore Community Hospital Settles EMTALA Case

A small hospital in Atmore, Alabama, settled claims that it refused to provide pain medication to a man who had been shot in the arm. The 65-year old man was sent to Atmore Community Hospital via ambulance to be air lifted to a hospital that was capable of treating his injury. However, it was too foggy for the helicopter to land, so the paramedics needed to drive him to the hospital, which was one hour away. The patient did not think he could make the trip without pain medication, so he requested pain relief for his severe pain - something Atmore had the capability to provide. As the paramedics unloaded the patient from the ambulance, Atmore's emergency department doctor and a nurse came out to the ambulance and refused to let the patient enter the hospital because they did not have a trauma surgeon on staff. Both the paramedic and the patient explained that the patient wanted pain relief for the long trip, but the doctor and nurse returned inside, with locked doors closing behind them. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alleged this conduct violates the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, which requires hospitals to provide stabilizing treatment to patients with emergency medical conditions, including severe pain. On December 29, 2014, Atmore agreed to pay $25,000 - the maximum penalty for a small hospital - to resolve these allegations. Senior Counsel Sandra Sands represented OIG.

Action Details

  • Date:December 29, 2014
  • Enforcement Types:
    • CMP and Affirmative Exclusions