Corporate Compliance

California hospital pays $50K for EMTALA violation

Healthcare Auditing Weekly, February 24, 2009

On January 30, Administrative Law Judge Steven T. Kessel imposed the maximum civil monetary penalty on St. Joseph’s Medical Center of Stockton, CA after the OIG determined St. Joseph’s violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), according to an OIG press release.

Kessel ordered St. Joseph’s to pay $50,000 after the facility’s emergency room (ER) staff failed to provide treatment for an 88-year-old man. According to the press release, the man waited in the ER for three hours, while his family repeatedly asked for help. The facility did not provide a medical screening examination or stabilizing treatment for the man, both of which EMTALA requires. The man went into cardiopulmonary arrest and died in the ER without receiving any treatment. 

St. Joseph’s failures were “shocking,” Kessel said in the press release. St Joseph’s treatment of the patient represented “a complete collapse of the system of care it purported to offer emergency patients,” he added.

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