Supreme Court lets EMTALA case proceed

From Modern Healthcare:

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal by Providence Hospital, Southfield, Mich., to throw out a case in which a family is seeking to hold the 459-bed hospital responsible for the murder of their daughter in 2002 by the woman’s estranged husband, a discharged, mentally unstable patient.

The lawsuit alleges that Providence violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, by releasing Christopher Howard, a patient who a hospital psychiatrist recommended be put on suicide watch and moved to the facility’s secure psychiatric ward. The lawsuit alleges that Providence discharged Howard following several days of treatment after learning that his insurance would not cover the recommended care.

The Supreme Court ruling upheld the decision of a lower court to allow the lawsuit to proceed. The case’s outcome could substantially affect hospitals’ liability under EMTALA. A Providence spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

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