Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) Requirements and Implications Related to COVID-19 (Revised)

Title
Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) Requirements and Implications Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Revised)
Memo #
QSO-20-15 Hospital/CAH/EMTALA REVISED
Posting Date
2020-03-30
Fiscal Year
2020
Summary
COVID-19 and EMTALA Requirements: This Memorandum conveys information in response to inquiries from hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) concerning implications of COVID-19 for their compliance with EMTALA. The memo was revised to include additional guidance related to the establishment of drive through testing sites, clarification of expectations in relation to the triage process and the medical screening examination, and use of telehealth. • EMTALA Screening Obligation: Every hospital or CAH with a dedicated emergency department (ED) is required to conduct an appropriate medical screening examination (MSE) of all individuals who come to the ED, including individuals who are suspected of having COVID-19, regardless of whether they arrive by ambulance or are walk-ins. Every ED is expected to have the capability to apply appropriate COVID-19 screening criteria when applicable, to immediately identify and isolate individuals who meet the screening criteria to be a potential COVID-19 patient and to contact their state or local public health officials to determine next steps when an individual meeting the screening criteria is found. • EMTALA Stabilization, Transfer & Recipient Hospital Obligations: In the case of individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, hospitals and CAHs are expected to consider the current guidance of CDC and public health officials in determining whether they have the capability to provide appropriate isolation required for stabilizing treatment and/or to accept appropriate transfers. In the event of any EMTALA complaints alleging inappropriate transfers or refusal to accept appropriate transfers, CMS will take into consideration the public health guidance in effect at the time.