The Florida Access to Emergency Services Law is critical to the health of the people living within the state of Florida. It was enacted to provide a certain degree of emergency services to the people of Florida regardless of their financial position during the times of emergencies. The law compelled general hospitals in Florida to allow the admission of emergency patients without following the economic criteria. The law requires licensed hospital physicians to maintain the determination of admitting all patients who are seeking emergency services. The Florida Access to Emergency Services Law has a well stipulated purpose and intent which properly elaborates how the law works, its benefits, exceptions and the penalties incurred for not complying with it.
Purpose and Intent of Florida Access to Emergency Services Law
Synopsis of Events Leading to the Passage of the Law
Before 1986, the Florida law was much inclined on the financial debts of the patients who needed emergency services and care more than it focused on the well-being of the patients. The Florida legislature then formulated and implemented the first statute that allowed for some level of emergency services independent of the patient's ability to pay. The statute was named Florida Statute 395.0144, and it was implemented from January 1st, 1987 (Ellis, 1998). Sweeping reforms were introduced in 1988 with the introduction of the statute F.S. 395.0142 which defined the legislative intent, which explained that the hospitals had to provide emergency care to everyone who needed it. The statute also stated that emergency services should be rendered without questioning whether the patients would be in a position to pay after the services. The statute named Florida Statute 395.0144 that was enacted in 1986 was improved by the Florida Statute 395.0142, which was again repealed in 1992 and renumbered as 395.1041 (Ellis, 1998).
Delineation of Requirements of the Hospital Receiving Eligible Patients
Hospitals receiving eligible patients in Florida have certain requirements, according to Fla. Statute 395.1041 (Ellis, 1998). The first requirement that is triggered upon the request for "emergency services and care" upon arrival of the patients in a hospital in Florida is the Florida hospital's medical screening. Emergency services and care refer to examination, medical screening, and evaluation done in hospitals by physicians up to the acceptable extent as defined by law. The medical screening, examination, and evaluation are done to determine if the emergency condition exists. Other medical options, such as surgery, are some specific treatments that can be used to eradicate the emergency medical condition.
The Exception of the Law
The law requires that any necessary medical transfers should be done to the closest hospital in the region, which has the required service capabilities. Exceptions are allowed when prior arrangements had been put in place or when the closest hospital has reached its optimal service capacity. The patient may be transferred back to the transferring hospital upon the improvement of his or her condition in the receiving hospital. The delivery of the emergency services and care or acceptance of transfers which are medically needed shall not be effected by or based on a patient's age, age race, citizenship, religion, sex, insurance status, ethnicity, economic status, physical or medical handicap. However, there are exceptions when circumstances such as pre-existing medical condition, medical or physical handicap, sex, or age are medically appropriate in delivery of relevant medical care to the patient (Ellis, 1998).
Conditions for Transfer for Care
The transfer of a patient can only be done after an effective medical screen has been performed to a patient in need of emergency services and care in any Florida hospital. It is required that the patient be stabilized before being transferred to another medical facility after the screening if there is a need to seek further medical treatment in the other facility. The transfers are supposed to be made according to the requirement of the 42 U.S.C. 1395dd(c) (Ellis, 1998). The requirement includes: The patient or the person acting legally on behalf of the patient must give their written consent regarding the transfer. Secondly, the physician must append his or her signature, stating that the transfer offers more benefits to the patients compared to the risks of transfer to another healthcare facility. Lastly, the transferring hospital must ensure that the transfer is an "appropriate transfer" by ensuring that the risks posed on the patient during the transfer are extremely reduced.
The receiving hospital has to agree to the request of the sending hospital, and the receiving hospital has to receive the patient effectively. The patients' records have to be sent to the receiving facility, and the transfer of the patient to another hospital has to be effected through qualified personnel (The Florida Legislature, 2019). The transfer should also be done with the use of appropriate transportation equipment.
Penalties for Violation of the Federal and the State of Florida Statutes
Failure to comply with the Florida Access to Emergency Services Law attracts various fines, not exceeding $10000 per violation of the provisions that are proclaimed by the law (The Florida Legislature, 2019). Victims who suffer personal injuries as a result of failure to abide by the law may get reasonable attorney fees or other forms of relief. The medical personnel who violate the Florida Access to Emergency Services Law are considered to commit a misdemeanor of the second degree, which is punishable as per the Florida laws (The Florida Legislature, 2019). Lastly, fines collected as a result of misrepresentation of the patient's conditions from the physicians shall be directed to the Medical Assistance trust fund.
In summary, the residents of Florida need to understand the Florida Access to Emergency Services Law. The law was systematically developed and enhanced so that it best suits the people of Florida. There are requirements that the receiving hospitals are supposed to meet as stipulated by the law. However, some exceptions should be considered. Violating the Florida Access to Emergency Services Law attracts various penalties that should be observed.
Ellis, R. M. (1998). Access to Emergency Services and Care in Florida [PDF file]. Retrieved October 25, 2019, from https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/access-to-emergency-services-and-care-in-florida/.The Florida Legislature. (2019, October 25). The 2019 Florida Statutes. Retrieved October 25, 2019,fromhttp://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0395/Sections/0395.1041.html/
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