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Death and Injury by Delay: Hidden Harm and EMTALA’s Reverse Dumping Provision

By · February 27, 2014 · 2014 Ark. L. Notes 1559
In categories: Health Law

by Dr. Robert C. Patton, M.D. 1

The following is an excerpt from the abstract of the author’s article, both of which are posted on the The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service:

This paper reflects on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act’s (EMTALA) provision regarding hospitals who fail to properly accept an incoming, emergency ill patient – a process also known as “reverse dumping.” Offered as the single most important piece of legislation affecting emergency medicine passed in the last quarter century, the author explains that many EMTALA violations are due to carelessly written inter-hospital emergency patient transfer policies. He argues that these policies may result in significant patient harm through unnecessary delays in patient transfers and that such harm goes unnoticed or is hidden on many occasions. Though rare, it is through the catastrophic case which results in significant injury or death that the consequence of “reverse dumping” is revealed.

You can read the full article on The Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service


  1. Robert C. Patton, M.D. is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and practices emergency medicine in Northwest Arkansas. Dr. Patton is an experienced Emergency Department Medical Director and a member of the Arkansas Bar, graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2012.