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ERs should be able to turn patients away

U.S. Rep. Diane Black said in a recent MSNBC interview she would like to see changes to a federal law to allow emergency department staff to turn patients away. The law, the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, requires ER staff to treat any patient regardless of ailment, ability to pay or other grounds of discrimination.

“I would get rid of a law that says that you are not allowed, as a health care professional, to make that decision about whether someone can be appropriately treated the next day, or at a walk-in clinic, or at their doctor,” Black, R-Gallatin, said in comments on MSNBC on Oct. 13.

ERs are the first line of care for victims of accidents and violence as well as a place where people with poorly managed chronic disease come when complications flare – potentially to dangerous levels.

And, on the other end of the spectrum, people walk into emergency rooms with the sniffles, bumps and bruises and random pains to get checked out, she said in the MSNBC interview.

“Sometimes it’s the place people go simply because they need a bed or haven’t eaten in three days,” said Dr. Ali Bollinger, chief of emergency medicine at Saint Thomas Midtown who oversees the system’s nine regional ERs. Courtesy MSNBC.com

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