Can a Hospital Deny Medical Treatment in Kentucky?

In general, hospitals are required to provide emergency medical treatment. However, there are some situations where hospitals can deny both routine and emergency medical treatment. Here, we want to review the few circumstances where a hospital can deny treatment to individuals in Kentucky.

When Does a Hospital Have to Provide Medical Care?

In Kentucky, as in all states, hospitals with emergency departments are required under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to provide care to any patient needing emergency medical care, regardless of citizenship, legal status, or ability to pay. This includes stabilizing treatment for emergency medical conditions and labor and ensuring that transfers to another hospital are done safely and only when medically appropriate.

When Can a Kentucky Hospital Deny Medical Treatment to a Patient?

Hospitals in Kentucky can deny treatment under certain circumstances that do not involve emergencies. These situations might include:

  • Lack of capacity. If a hospital does not have the necessary resources or capacity to treat a patient properly, it may deny treatment and refer the patient to another facility.
  • Behavioral issues. Hospitals might refuse to treat patients who are violent or who pose a risk to the safety and security of the hospital staff as well as other patients.
  • Non-emergency situations. For non-emergency treatments, hospitals may require upfront payment or a payment plan, especially if the treatment is elective and the patient does not have insurance or means to pay.
  • Specialty care needs. If the hospital does not have the specialized care a patient needs, they may deny treatment and refer the patient to a more appropriate facility.

Hospitals must remain cognizant of both state and federal laws when determining whether or not to continue treating a patient. Failure to follow these regulations could result in significant regulatory scrutiny as well as medical malpractice claims.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit After Treatment Denial

If a patient believes that a hospital wrongfully denied medical treatment, resulting in harm, they may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Kentucky, proving medical malpractice involves demonstrating that the hospital failed to provide the standard of care that a reasonable facility would provide under similar circumstances, directly causing injury or harm. Key steps include:

  • Gathering evidence. Collect all medical records, testimonies, and any other documentation related to the denial of treatment.
  • Consulting legal advice. It is crucial to seek guidance from an attorney specializing in medical malpractice who can assess the merits of the case.
  • Filing a claim. If advised by your attorney, the next step would be to file a formal claim against the hospital, which might lead to a settlement or a court proceeding.

Victims of wrongful treatment denial need to act quickly due to the statute of limitations, which in Kentucky generally requires filing a claim within one year of the treatment denial or when the injury was discovered.

Medical malpractice victims may be able to recover certain types of compensation if their claim is successful. This could include compensation for any medical bills arising due to the treatment denial, lost income, as well as pain and suffering damage.