Are hospital emergency rooms required to be open 24/7?

And if so are they always required to give treatment to anyone who comes in, insured or otherwise? I have to do a report on the current hospital business model and it’s shortcomings for economics class and I couldn’t find any definitive answers on either of those questions. I think it has to do with state law (?) so let’s say Pennsylvania for example.

4 Answers

  • They aren’t required to be open 24/7, but there’s hardly any way to avoid it. Hospitals that don’t participate in Medicare or Medicaid theoretically aren’t within the purview of EMTALA laws, but those are few and far between. The vast majority must give a medical screening exam and any stabilizing treatment they can. That isn’t at all to say that they have to treat everybody for everything. Non-urgent stuff can be sent away to more appropriate venues. After all, EMTALA requirements for exams and treatment are NOT accompanied by any governmental funding to pay for the exams and treatment.

    Emergency care isn’t a major problem area in your topic, though. Byzantine accounting methods and leadership with both a lack of focus on patient care and a top-down leadership mindset cause a lot more troubles than do problems with minor cost-shifting in ED’s. Show me a hospital administrator who understands that his emergency department is not a money-loser (and they almost never are), or one who understands that his nursing staff are his inventory rather than a cost to be trimmed, and I’ll kiss his feet.


    If you don’t pay it, they can sue you. Some hospitals will. Yes, it will go on your credit report. Did you call and try to work out a payment plan? Most hospital and doctor offices will work with you if you show you are sincere and and make payments on time. I’m sure you think it was excessive but they don’t. That is why the health care cost is so high in America. Do you know how many employees were working there while you were waiting? Do you know what it cost to pay the bills to run a hospital? It is more than Doctors and nurses. There are nurses aids, housekeeping (someone has to sweep and empty trash and clean bathrooms), there is dietary, (someone has to feed the patients and run the cafeteria). There is maintenance to keep things up and in running order, there is the billing office, social services, admissions, file room, x-ray, and I could go on and on. It takes money to run a place like that and most people never see past the doctors and nurses. i wonder how they think the other things gets done? I would guess while you were waiting your turn there were people there that, to you, didn’t seem that bad. There are people this nation over that uses the E.R. at the hospital as their private doctors office because they don’t have insurance. You should see what some of their bills look like. Then there are those that have Medicare and Medicaid which doesn’t pay the cost the hospital charges, they have what is an agreed upon amount. You would be surprised how many have a bill that is smaller than yours that won’t pay it, will ignore the statements, and never try to settle because they are on limited income with NO insurance at all and they have to make the decision to pay the hospital bill or the utilities or eat for that month. Not one or two, one or the other. I’m sorry, I just realized I am on my soap box again, I will get off and shut up because I could go on…………………………..

  • Is The Er Open 24 7

  • Yes. It is federal law, EMTALA, that dictates that all persons presenting for treatment must have amedical screening exam to rule out a medical condition.

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