Articles Tagged with health care

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emergency-room-65898-mThe Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, passed by the United States Congress in 1986, ensures that the public receive access to emergency medical services, without regard as to whether or not that individual has sufficient funds to pay for those services. Congress enacted EMTALA, in part, after a growing number of allegations in which private hospitals had refused to treat individuals that did not have the resources to pay for medical services. These hospitals would “dump” patients on publicly funded hospitals that were already overcrowded with sick patients.

 Under EMTALA, hospitals with an emergency department are required to:

  1. provide an appropriate medical screening examination to any individual who comes to the emergency department;· to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to an individual with an emergency medical condition or an individual in labor;
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law-education-series-3-68918-mIn order to bring a suit against a health care provider in Massachusetts there are two hurdles that every aggrieved individual must overcome: a 60L notice of intention to sue letter and a medical malpractice tribunal. This entry will focus on the former- the notice to sue letter.

 In November of 2012 a new law went into effect that greatly changed the landscape of a medical malpractice claim. As a prerequisite to filing suit in Massachusetts against a health care provider, the Commonwealth requires that an aggrieved individual give the health care provider (or institution) 182 days notice prior to commencing an action in court. This notice is to be in writing and sent to the last known professional business address or residential address of the health care provider. The notice letter is often referred to as a “60L notice of intention to sue letter.”

 The 60L letter has certain requirements that must be met in order for an individual to pursue his or her claim in a court of law. First, the aggrieved party must state the factual basis for their claim. Generally, this means that the individual must expound upon the circumstances bringing about the complained of activity- whether for a surgical instrument that was left inside the body, or a health care provider’s failure to diagnose a certain condition. Second, the complainant must state the “applicable standard of care” of the health care provider as well as an indication as to how the health care provider failed to adhere to that standard. Put another way- the complainant must state what the health care provider was supposed to do relative to the care and treatment of the patient, and how they failed to conform to the rules of medicine with the complainant. Generally, this requires the knowledge and/or guidance of a medical expert that supports the complainant’s claim. Continue reading →