Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, every U.S. hospital with an emergency room has a duty to treat patients who arrive in labor, caring for them at least until the delivery of the placenta after a baby is born.
But 30 years after EMTALA was passed, hospitals — particularly those in rural areas without obstetrics units — are still turning away women in labor.
A review of federal inspection reports shows that at least 20 rural hospitals around the country have been found in violation of EMTALA over the last five years — including Jewish Hospital Shelbyville. In several cases, women suffered serious complications after being turned away, or were misdiagnosed at facilities that lacked specialists in obstetrics.
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