Southpointe Hospital, St. Louis, will pay the fourth-largest EMTALA settlement to date -- $100,000 -- for four cases in which it allegedly failed to appropriately screen, stabilize or transfer patients whose various complaints included dizziness, depression, lacerated wrists, high blood pressure, rape and a blood-alcohol content five times the legal limit. A spokesman for Tenet Healthcare Corp., which owns the 281-bed hospital, declined to comment. The highest settlement for violations of the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, better known as EMTALA, was $148,000, paid by the 447-bed University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, in 1999. In other recent EMTALA settlements, 374-bed SSM DePaul Health Center, also in St. Louis, will pay $10,000 in a case involving an elderly patient whose broken hip was not diagnosed or treated during an eight-hour period in the hospital. HHS' inspector general's office said it assessed a relatively low settlement fine because the hospital gives substantial charity care, has struggled financially and has terminated its relationship with the emergency room physician involved in the case. The inspector general's office also cited a hospital's financial difficulties in assessing a relatively low fine -- again $10,000 -- against 110-bed Memorial Hospital of Salem County, Salem, N.J., for multiple EMTALA violations in 1999. The hospital was bought by Community Health Systems in 2002. -- by Mark Taylor
Hospital to pay fourth-largest EMTALA fine ever
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