Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Friedrich v. South County Hospital Healthcare System

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

November 1, 2016

STEPHEN FRIEDRICH, individually and as Executor of the Estate of PATRICIA FRIEDRICH and p.p.a S.F.; and AMY FRIEDRICH, Plaintiffs,
v.
SOUTH COUNTY HOSPITAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM; JOSEPH P. TURNER, D.O.; JOHN and/or JANE DOE, Alias; and JOHN DOE CORPORATION, Alias, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 44) filed by Defendant South County Hospital Healthcare System (“Defendant”), in which it contends that the federal statute on which this action is premised - the Emergency Medical Treatemnt and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”) - does not apply to the hospital facility at issue in this case. Plaintiffs filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 49.) For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Patricia Friedrich (“Friedrich”) presented to the South County Hospital Medical & Wellness Center's Urgent/Walk-in Care (the “Urgent/Walk-in Care”) on September 9, 2013, complaining of severe pain and burning in her chest and right arm. She sent several text messages to her coworkers indicating that she “had to get checked out at the ER” and she “[s]aw south county walk in hospital from the highway and pulled in to get checked out! All the symptoms of a female type heart attacked but new it could't be . . . But since i'm not a doctor i thought it wax a good idea to get checked out.” (Ex. 22 to Pls.' Opp'n 3-5, ECF No. 49-23 (text left unedited).) Friedrich was seen by Joseph Turner, D.O. After undergoing several tests, she was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, given a “GI cocktail, ” and discharged with no follow-up ordered. (Pls.' Opp'n 1-2, ECF No. 49-1.)

         The next day, Friedrich was found unresponsive at home. Emergency Medical Response was called and cardiopulmonary resuscitation began upon their arrival. She was transported to South County Hospital in asystole and death was pronounced. An autopsy confirmed the cause of death as atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. (Pl.'s Opp'n 2, ECF No. 49-1.)

         II. Discussion

         The issue in the current motion is whether the Urgent/Walk-in Care was required to appropriately screen and stabilize Friedrich under EMTALA. Adopted by the United States Congress in 1986, EMTALA requires that federally funded hospitals provide an “appropriate medical screening examination” to individuals who present to an emergency department requesting an examination, “to determine whether or not an emergency medical condition . . .exists.” See 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd(a). Additionally, EMTALA mandates that when

the hospital determines that the individual has an emergency medical condition, the hospital must provide either-
(A) within the staff and facilities available at the hospital, for such further medical examination and such treatment as may be required to stabilize the medical condition, or
(B) for transfer of the individual to another medical facility in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

Id. § 1395dd(b). However, a patient who has not been stabilized may only be transferred if certain conditions are met. See id. § 1395dd(c). To establish a violation of the screening or stabilization provisions in EMTALA, a plaintiff must prove that:

(1) the hospital is a participating hospital, covered by EMTALA, that operates an emergency department (or an equivalent facility); (2) the patient arrived at the facility seeking treatment; and (3) the hospital either (a) did not afford the patient an appropriate screening in order to determine if she had an emergency medical condition, or (b) bade farewell to the patient (whether by turning her away, discharging her, or improvidently transferring her) without first stabilizing the emergency medical condition.

Alvarez-Torres v. Ryder Mem'l Hosp., Inc., 582 F.3d 47, 51 (1st Cir. 2009) (citing Correa v. Hosp. San Francisco, 69 F.3d 1184, 1190 (1st Cir. 1995)).

         The threshold question in this case is whether the Urgent/Walk-in Care is a “dedicated emergency department” of South County Hospital under EMTALA.[1] The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (“CMS”) - a division of the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for the Medicare program and the development and enforcement of regulations on EMTALA - has defined “dedicated emergency department” as “any department or facility of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.