The plaintiff alleged that when he was admitted to the hospital back on July 19, 2012 for an elective cervical spine surgery, he suffered a preventable injury to his esophagus. After the injury, the lawsuit alleges, there were no arrangements to move him to a facility where he could receive the care he needed. Furthermore, he was not properly stabilized before being transferred to Penn State Hershey Medical Center, where he was ultimately treated on July 26, 2012…malpracticeteam, Federal Judge Dismisses Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Case For Lack Of Jurisdiction, Wais Vogelstein Forman & Offutt LLC, 2020

The victim brought his claims under the authority of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which is an Act of Congress passed in 1986 that requires all hospitals to provide emergency medical treatment, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. EMTALA is a federal law applicable in all 50 states and claims arising under it can be brought in federal court instead of state court where most medical malpractice cases are generally heard.

The judge however, while dismissing the case, observed that the underlying medical condition did not fit within the definition of an “emergency” because it stemmed from an elective procedure. Therefore, EMTALA did not apply and neither did federal law. The judge held that the federal judiciary did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and suggested the plaintiff bring the case in a state court under traditional theories of negligence and medical malpractice.

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD