Is it permissible under EMTALA to triage stable patients with suspected cases of swine flu to an alternative site for evaluation?
If the patient is not severely ill and does not require the resources of the emergency department, sending the patient to an alternative facility, such as a clinic or a temporary treatment area, is consistent with EMTALA regulations. Using an alternative site for the medical screening exam (MSE) may be desirable if substantial numbers of patients with ILI complaints are presenting to the primary ED. If the physical limitations of your waiting areas are such that other patients might be inadvertently exposed to swine flu, early implementation of an alternative examination area may be warranted. If the patient is to be directed to an alternate site for care: • The patient’s vital signs, history and co-morbidities should not warrant immediate attention in the emergency department. • The alternative site should be designated by the hospital as the site where the MSE is to be performed for patients with ILI. • The alternative MSE site should be equipped to screen patients for the disease an