Woman wins $200K for hospital EMTALA violation

A woman won $200,000 in damages for delivering a stillborn at home after being discharged against her wishes from Eastern Maine Medical Center, reports the Associated Press.

Lorraine Morin sued the hospital for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) when they sent her home in July 2007, according to the Bangor Daily News. The law prevents a hospital from discharging a patient needing emergency healthcare, regardless of legal status or ability to pay.

According to testimony, after two ultrasounds and a pelvic examination, EMMC doctors determined that Morin's 16-week-old fetus didn't have a heartbeat, reports the Daily News. Yet Morin said she was still having contractions and begged hospital staff to let her stay.

Dr. Robert Grover "explained to her that she was not ready to pass the fetus," and "he felt, under the circumstances, that it was safe for her to go home," said Attorney George Schelling, who is representing the hospital. They told her to return to EMMC if her condition worsened.

Morin was discharged at around 6 a.m. and delivered the dead fetus at around 9 p.m., notes the AP. She didn't return to EMMC later that night because she didn't feel welcome at the hospital, she told a jury.

By awarding Morin thousands of dollars in damages, the jury determined that EMMC doctors knew she was in labor and was suffering from an emergency medical condition that required stabilization at the time of discharge.

For more:
- read the Bangor Daily News article
- read the Associated Press article