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Sarah Coyne featured in article “How COVID-19 Changes Hospitals Responsibilities Under EMTALA”

Super Lawyers

Below is an excerpt:

“Now I’m a processor of these changes, and am broadcasting them out in as digestible a form as I can and as fast as I can, because it’s happening so fast and it’s in regulatory language that these hospital clients don’t have the time to sit down and figure out,” Coyne says.

"The biggest change, Coyne says, was obligation changes under Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The law says you can’t turn away a patient or refuse emergency treatment except under limited circumstances."

“It’s a law that, even though it’s fairly simple in concept, even in the best of times it poses a lot of challenges,” Coyne says. “Now if you add the surge of people panicking about a disease that isn’t well understood, and are going to emergency departments to be tested, potentially spreading it even further, let’s just say I’ve gotten a whole lot of calls about it.”

“One of my key missions communicating with clients right now is that you absolutely are still obligated to comply with EMTALA,” she says.


“There’s going to be a higher bar before the government considers something a violation, in terms of moving patients to other sites to be tested or transferring patients to other hospitals that are better equipped to deal with COVID-19,” she says. “Having a lot of rural hospital clients, you know, they have the basics but not a lot of sophisticated testing equipment or ventilation equipment and things like that. So I was glad to see one of the good news pieces being, ‘Do your best, and get your patients to places where they will be best treated, and there will be less scrutiny about whether you ticked every box before transfer under EMTALA.’”


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