Health Law Daily Facts alleged in EMTALA lawsuit complaint undermined claims
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Facts alleged in EMTALA lawsuit complaint undermined claims

By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.

A plaintiff’s factual allegations undermined her claims that a hospital violated EMTALA when it treated her mother, because by pleading that the hospital determined that the mother had an emergency medical condition, the plaintiff necessarily asserted that the mother received screening as required by EMTALA.

A plaintiff essentially pleaded herself out of court on her claims that a hospital violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), because she pleaded facts showing that the hospital complied with its EMTALA duties to screen, treat, and stabilize the plaintiff’s mother, held a federal district court in Illinois. For example, her allegations that the hospital determined additional diagnostic tests to perform and admitted the mother to its intensive care unit for observation undermined the claim that the hospital failed to conduct screening as required by EMTALA. Civil rights and fraudulent concealment claims also failed (Nartey v. Franciscan Health, July 11, 2019, Coleman, S.).

EMTALA and Title VI claims fail. The plaintiff claimed that her mother received inadequate care (causing her death) from the emergency room of the defendant hospital and brought claims under the EMTALA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She alleged that the hospital violated its EMTALA duties to screen, treat, stabilize, and transfer the mother by failing to comply with national and community standards of care. The court rejected all of her claims.

EMTALA does not require that the treatment satisfy any national or community standard of care. With respect to her claims for duties that are required by EMTALA, the plaintiff pleaded herself out of court, by pleading facts that undermined the allegations—for example, that the hospital screened the mother and initiated treatment upon her arrival, identified low potassium levels, determined additional diagnostic tests to perform, and admitted her to its intensive care unit for observation. In other words, the plaintiff necessarily asserted that the mother received screening as required by EMTALA. Allegations that the hospital failed to stabilize or transfer the mother fails for similar reasons; the plaintiff alleged facts demonstrating that the mother could not be transferred because no other facility would accept her. The plaintiff’s claim that the hospital discriminated against her mother based on her language proficiency also fails, because the complaint alleged facts showing that the mother was able to communicate with her care providers (for example, that the mother asked in English to leave the hospital).

Remaining claims fail. The plaintiff’s claims for fraudulent concealment fail, because she did not file an affidavit as required by Illinois law declaring that she reviewed the facts of the case with a health professional and a report from the professional concluding that there is a meritorious claim of medical neglect. But even if she could survive the state affidavit requirement, her complaint fails to state a claim for fraudulent concealment for the hospital’s alleged omission of documents from the mother’s hospital records, because she did not allege that any omission from the medical records was intended to cover up actions taken during the mother’s medical treatment at the hospital.

The case is No. 1:18-cv-05327.

Attorneys: Isabella Nartey, pro se. Bradford D. Roth (Cassiday Schade LLP) for Franciscan Health Hospital.

Companies: Franciscan Health Hospital

MainStory: TopStory CaseDecisions EMTALANews IllinoisNews

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