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MO: Falure to Stabilize Patient - Birth Injury: Mother Brings Suit v. Hosp. Under EMTALA.

CASE FACTS: Amy Root, an insulin-dependent diabetic, who was thirty-one weeks pregnant, arrived at the emergency room at Liberty Hospital on November 30, 1996, seeking treatment for nausea, dehydration, and vomiting. The patient alleged that the hospital's emergency room staff never screened her for the onset of diabetic ketoacidosis, despite the fact that she exhibited the classic warning signs. The patient also alleged that the hospital released her without first stabilizing her condition. Within thirty hours of her release, the patient arrived at St. Luke's Hospital in a severe diabetic ketoacidosis state. She immediately delivered her daughter, Elizabeth Root, by emergency cesarean section. Elizabeth Root is severely brain-damaged. The Plaintiff and her husband brought a medical malpractice suit against the hospital, the emergency room physicians, and other defendants alleging that their failure to render emergency treatment or stabilize the patient resulted in the infant's brain damage. The suit was brought under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). After the hospital's motion to dismiss pursuant to Missouri's sovereign immunity statute was denied, the hospital filed a notice of appeal and moved to stay proceedings pending a decision on its appeal.

COURT'S OPINION: The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri granted the hospital's motion. he court held, inter alia, that the denial of the hospital's motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity was immediately appealable. The court further held that the hospital's appeal was not utterly without merit, and thus divested the district court of jurisdiction over any aspects of the case relating to appeal, and warranted a stay of all proceedings pending the outcome of the appeal. The filing of a Notice of Appeal confers jurisdiction on the appellate court over all matters appealed. It also divests the district court of jurisdiction over any aspect of the case relating to the appeal. The court noted that it previously had ruled that Missouri law which grants the State of Missouri immunity from tort claim liability, is in direct conflict with EMTALA. A federal statute creating a cause of action against hospitals that violate the statute's provisions. A federal statute preempts state law when a federal law is intended to occupy a field of law exclusively or when a state law conflicts with a federal statute. EMTALA contains a provision stating that it does not preempt any state law requirement "except to the extent the requirement directly conflicts with a requirement of EMTALA." Root v. Liberty Emergency Physicians, Inc., 68 F.Supp.2d 1086 - MO (1999)

Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo, JD, is a nationally recognized authority on health care law. Practicing law for nearly 40 years, he concentrates in health care law with the Providence, R.I., firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates. He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States. In addition to his writings as Editor of Medical Law's, Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Reagan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals. A prolific writer, his thousands of articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and Marquis Who's Who in American Law.
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Article Details
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Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Hospital Law's Regan Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U4MO
Date:Jan 1, 2000
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