Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Baber v. Hospital Corporation of America case brief

Baber v. Hospital Corporation of America case brief summary
977 F.2d 872 (1992)

Plaintiff administrator for his sister's estate appealed the granting of summary judgment to defendants, two doctors, two hospitals, and their parent corporations, by the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in his action for violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), 42 U.S.C.S. § 1395dd.


The administrator's sister died from an injury that the first hospital failed to diagnose in its emergency room before transferring her to the second. The court affirmed the summary judgment. As to the doctors, the court found that patients could not sue their physicians under EMTALA. As to the hospitals, the court concluded that EMTALA only required hospitals to apply their standard screening procedure for identification of an emergency medical condition uniformly to all patients, and the administrator had failed to prove that the first hospital did not do so. Nor did he present any evidence that the sister had been given disparate treatment because first hospital's examination of his sister differed from their standard screening procedure.


  • The court also found that the first hospital did not inappropriately transfer the sister because the administrator again failed to prove that the hospital knew the sister had an emergency medical condition at the time she was transferred. 
  • As to the second hospital, EMTALA did not apply because the sister was not presented to the emergency department there but was transferred directly the psychiatric ward.

The court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of the doctors, hospitals, and their parent corporations. It was axiomatic that the parent corporations were not liable if the hospitals were not.

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