Proposed EMTALA Regulation Changes to Affect On-Call Programs

The CMS EMTALA Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has recommended that hospitals establish a formal “community call arrangement.” A community call plan would help to ensure compliance with EMTALA obligations, and eliminate problems with the current system wherein there is a shortage of physicians of various specialties, or where a continuous on-call obligation is often placed on a single physician.   

The regulation change will result in a reorganization of all patient services from the hospital level to the street level. For example, regional groups of hospitals will have to collaboratively determine the best sources for specific types of patient care. Likewise, EMS authorities and services will have to revise and update their protocols to include a process to acquire and update information for their crews as to the best destinations for patients.   

According to the recommendations, a specific hospital in a region would “be designated as the on-call facility for a specific time period or for a specific service, or both.”  

Transfer of unstable patients requiring care by the on-call specialists would occur in accordance with the community call plan; EMTALA would continue to apply to the patient until stabilization at the second hospital occurs. 

For additional information about the proposed regulation change, please read Dr. Chase’s full article on the subject: http://www.bsahealthcare.com/Media/pressroom_April_2008.htm

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