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Is This Case an EMTALA Violation?

Reinisch, Courtney E. DNP, FNP-BC, DCC; Lyons, Rachel DNP, DCC, CPNP-PC/AC

doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e3182a8f137

The advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) working in the emergency department (ED) is asked to see a patient with an “eye infection.” The patient has a severe retrobulbar orbital abscess requiring complex multidisciplinary specialty management and is ultimately transferred to a tertiary care center. The patient had first presented to a community ED per the recommendation of her ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The patient was advised to leave the first ED during triage and to go to a second community ED. Although the referring physician was made aware of the recommendation to have the patient drive to another facility, the APRN questions whether this is a case of an Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) violation. This article defines EMTALA and evaluates the case.

College of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark.

Corresponding Author: Courtney E. Reinisch, DNP, FNP-BC, DCC, College of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Ackerson Hall, 180 University Ave, Newark, NJ 07102 (

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.