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What Happens When a Hospital is Not Equipped to Treat You?

Let us say that you were badly injured in an automobile accident and taken to a hospital ER, where the doctor said the hospital was not equipped to treat your injury and told you to go to another hospital. The delay caused serious complications. W

as the refusal to treat you malpractice? No. A hospital does not have to accept patients it is not equipped to treat.

A hospital not only does not have to accept a patient that it is not equipped to treat, but it is medical malpractice for it to do so. If you were admitted to a hospital’s ER, and it was later found that you had a bad result, because the hospital did not have the right specialists available, or the necessary equipment to treat your condition, you could sue for medical malpractice.

In a Florida case, a man suffered a ruptured spleen and an eye injury in a fall. He was admitted to a general hospital, where his spleen was removed. Because the general hospital did not have the equipment to treat his eye injury, his doctor ordered him transferred to a specialty hospital that treated only eye cases. When he arrived at that hospital, the ER physician refused to admit him, because the specialty hospital had no facilities to care for the major abdominal surgery he had undergone at the general hospital. The patient was returned to the general hospital, which readmitted him and kept him for another month without any treatment of the eye injury. The patient lost the eye.

When this man filed a lawsuit, the court said the general hospital was not guilty of medical malpractice for transferring him, because the general hospital could not treat his eye injury. And, the specialty eye hospital was correct in refusing to accept him, because it was not equipped to handle a serious abdominal case. However, it found the doctor and the general hospital both guilty

of medical malpractice for allowing him to return there when they were not equipped to treat the eye injury, and there was a nearby university hospital that could have cared for both injuries.

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