Medicare hospitals must offer emergency services

CMS is putting its foot down when it comes to emergency care. New guidance from CMS says that like it or not, the majority of hospitals who accept Medicare must provide emergency services. The only hospitals exempt from offering initial treatment and transfers are small, rural hospitals. Otherwise, even facilities such as specialty hospitals must fall into line, even if they don't have emergency departments. Before getting this feedback, some hospitals have relied on the crude expedient of calling 911 to satisfy this CMS requirement.

This feedback offers an implicit critique of a recent episode in which a patient at a Texas specialty hospital died after the staff couldn't help with an emergency, calling 911 instead. It may not be the last measure impacting specialty hospitals, which have come under fire from several fronts, including concern over the potential for inappropriate self-referral by specialist-owners.

To learn more about the CMS guidance:
- read this United Press International item