New Report from the Authorized Motion Middle Finds that Denying Essential Take care of Substance Use Issues in Emergency Departments Can Violate Federal Legislation

As the primary access point to the health system for many people, hospital emergency rooms play a critical role in providing medical care that helps patients with an addictive disorder survive and gain access to further treatment. Evidence-based practices specifically include screening and diagnosing substance use disorders, administering opioid agonist drugs, and facilitating the treatment of referrals along with the distribution or prescription of naloxone, if necessary. The report EMERGENCY: Hospitals Can Violate Federal Law by Denying Necessary Care for Substance Use Disorders in Emergency Departments concludes that hospitals that fail to provide this care could be held liable under four separate federal laws: the Emergency Medical Care and Labor Act (EMTALA.). ); the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the Rehabilitation Act (RA); and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (Title VI). Specifically:

  • Hospitals can violate EMTALA if they do not carry out a medical check-up for people who come to the emergency room with a substance-related illness and if they do not offer stabilization services for patients with a diagnosed substance disorder.
  • Hospitals violate the ADA and RA when their emergency rooms deny evidence-based substance use disorder practices based on unfounded stereotypes rather than legitimate medical considerations.
  • Hospitals violate Title VI if they deny evidence-based emergency room practices because of a patient’s race or ethnicity, or if their refusal and / or acceptance of these practices has racially different effects.

In addition, the failure of emergency rooms to implement evidence-based practices is taking a particularly severe toll on black, Latin American and indigenous communities who, in addition to being more likely to seek help in emergency rooms due to restricted access to primary care, are taking a particularly severe toll on some substances in some geographic areas recorded the highest increase in overdose death rates.

“With more than 19 million US adults currently living with substance use disorder and in the midst of an escalating overdose crisis, the emergency rooms not only have the role and resources to deal with life-threatening emergencies but, as our report shows, the legal obligation , “says Sika Yeboah-Sampong, staff attorney and one of the report authors for the Legal Action Center.” This should be a wake-up call for emergency rooms across the country. ”

“This report adds to the technical consensus that effective addiction care in the emergency room is a must, not an option,” says Joshua Sharfstein, MD, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which funded this report. “Emergency services that provide critical addiction support save lives in their communities.”

The full report can be found at

The Legal Action Center emails people who have been denied the drug use services described in the report [email protected] to share their story with the Legal Action Center and get information on how to file a complaint with the relevant federal agencies.

The Legal Action Center (LAC) uses legal and political strategies to combat discrimination, build health equality and give people with a criminal record, drug abuse and HIV or AIDS opportunities again. LAC strives to put an end to punitive reactions to health conditions such as addiction, mental illness, and HIV or AIDS, and to provide equal access to affordable, high-quality treatments.

Through education, research, and practice, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative aims to address five health challenges for the country: addiction and overdose, adolescent health, environmental issues, obesity and the food system, and violence. Part of the initiative, the Bloomberg Fellows Program, provides full MPH and DrPH scholarships for those on the front lines of promoting health in the U.S. The initiative was presented with a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies in honor of the John’s centenary founded Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

SOURCE The Legal Action Center and Bloomberg American Health Initiative

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