Autistic Child Denied Emergency Medical Care Due to Insurance

Following a complaint survey, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cited Lauderdale Hospital for noncompliance with  Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) regulations. At minimum, these regulations require hospitals to perform emergency medical screenings and treatment regardless of patients’ insurance status or ability to pay. The cited deficiencies relate to an incident in which an autistic child  was escorted by police to the facility’s ER due to aggressive behaviors. CMS found that following the child’s arrival at the hospital, the hospital denied him an emergency medical exam and stabilizing treatment because the child’s insurance provider did not contract with the hospital. CMS’ survey findings stated “Due to the patient’s insurance coverage, was referred to 2 other facilities without the benefit of a medical screening examination.” CMS also determined that Lauderdale Hospital failed to provide the patient with an appropriate transfer to an alternate facility for care. The patient left the hospital in the care of his mother for transport to an alternate facility, but there was no indication that Ft. Lauderdale Hospital informed the patient’s mother of their federal obligation to provide emergency treatment, or of the risks and benefits of the transfer. Moreover, physician certification for the transfer of the patient was not obtained and the receiving facility was not contacted to ensure acceptance of the patient.