Document Type


Publication Date



Emergency Medical Services for Children Program


Medicare; Hospitals; Legal; Discrimination


This issue brief provides a brief overview of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) and focuses on its application to hospital inpatients. EMTALA applies differently to patients than non-patients, and also applies differently to patients admitted through the emergency department than patients admitted as regular inpatients. In addition, courts and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have differed in their interpretation of the statute. Depending on the specific facts of any particular case, EMTALA may or may not have implications for specialty-related transfers and discharges.


Funded by a grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program. Cooperative agreement number U07MC09174: EMSC National Resource Center at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

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