3 Instances When the Hospital Emergency Room Has a Right to Refuse Treatment

April 22, 2015 | By admin


No one looks forward to getting sick or injured and needing to head to the emergency room for help. In fact, quite the opposite. Emergency room waiting times are notoriously long and, while you are waiting, who knows what germs – think sneezing kids and contagious flu sufferers – you’ll pick up that may make you even more sick.

Alas, there are times you have to go to the ER. Broken bones and bad lacerations, for example, usually require emergent care. Of course, if you are having chest pains or an anaphylactic reaction, the emergency room is the place to better be headed right away.

Patients’ rights dictate that the ER staff must treat emergencies. In fact, there are many patients’ rights you may not know about. You have the right to ask questions about your care and have all treatment options, including risks and side effects, explained to you. You have an absolute right to complete privacy and confidentiality when it coms to your hospital visit and care; this right extends to all healthcare employees and other patients, as well. You even have the right to refuse any treatment; this includes getting up and leaving if you are unhappy with the care or treatment. (You will likely have to sign paperwork that acknowledges you left against doctor’s advice.)

On the other hand, the hospital does have the right to refuse treatment to patients in three specific instances:

  1. Looking for Drugs: If the ER staff believes you are exhibiting what they consider to be “drug seeking behavior,” (and rest assured, they are trained to spot it,) they do not have to treat you.
  2. Delusions: If the ER staff believes you are not truly ill and there is no real condition to treat, but you appear to be having a delusion about serious illness. They are not required to offer treatment if, based on medical opinion, there is not need.
  3. Behavioral Issues: No one like the long ER waiting room game. It’s boring and, already feeling horrible, it’s likely impatience will make everything worse. However, if you begin to act out – displaying dangerous or destructive behavior – the ER staff does not have to treat you and is permitted to have you removed from the premises.

If you were denied treatment at a hospital or other healthcare facility and your situation does not fall into one of these three outlined exceptions, contact a medical malpractice lawyer who will review your case to determine if you are the victim of medical negligence. Contact the skilled attorneys at Lombardi & Lombardi today.

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