Facility Violates EMTALA, Fails to Provide Required Medical Screening to Patient in Parking Lot

West Oaks Hospital was cited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for not complying with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) during an incident involving a 61-year old patient.  CMS found that the facility failed to abide by EMTALA provisions requiring hospital emergency departments to provide an appropriate medical screening exam within their capability, when it failed to conduct such an exam for the patient after he arrived in the hospital’s parking lot. The patient’s caretaker entered the facility to request admission for the patient who had overdosed on Xanax, fell and hit his head, started foaming from the mouth, and was unable to move his leg. Hospital personnel then went outside to assess the patient, during which the facility’s nurses suspected that the patient may have had a cardiovascular incident and found that “his speech was slurred and unintelligible and he almost fell getting out of the SUV.” Despite the patient’s emergent conditions, CMS found that “[t]here was no attempt to escort the patient inside the hospital for a medical exam nor was there any attempt to get a physician to come out to the SUV to assess the patient. Instead, they depended on 911.” CMS also cited the facility for noncompliance with another EMTALA provision requiring appropriate transfers of patient with emergency conditions. CMS found that the facility failed to certify the risks and benefits of the patient’s transfer and failed to ensure that the receiving hospital would accept the patient.