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News Briefs: May 18, 2020

DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia, has agreed to pay $260,000 to settle a civil monetary penalty case alleging violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) alleged DeKalb Medical Center didn’t provide an adequate medical screening exam to 21 people. For example, on Feb. 2, 2015, an ambulance brought a 29-year-old man to DeKalb’s emergency department with complaints of neck pain after he was in a car accident an hour earlier, according to the settlement, which was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The man scored his pain at a level five on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst pain. “The medical records indicate that [the patient] was seen by a registered nurse, who triaged him using the emergency severity level index at level 4 (indicating a non-urgent patient). The triage nurse recorded [the patient’s] vital signs and marked ‘no’ next to nine questions on a non-patient specific checklist.” He was discharged from the hospital’s emergency room. Edgar Bueno, an attorney for Dekalb, told RMC that the hospital disagreed with a lot of OIG’s allegations of EMTALA violations. The hospital didn’t admit liability in the settlement.

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