ENA Statement on Access to Quality Health Care and EMTALA

May 22, 2024 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act Emergency Nurses Association EMTALA ENA

On Wednesday, ENA issued the following statement relating to recent arguments before the Supreme Court about the applicability of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

Every person deserves the best care possible when they arrive in an emergency department.

That core value has driven ENA to support emergency nurses, and the patients they serve, for more than 50 years.

ENA’s firm belief that all people are entitled to equitable access to affordable, comprehensive, quality health care comes with no exceptions. It applies to every person in need of care, within the emergency department or not, for critical, acute and chronic conditions, including mental health, substance use disorders, reproductive health and gender-affirming care, regardless of their socioeconomic status or geographical location.

For nearly 40 years, the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act has removed any doubt or question as to the obligation of emergency departments to treat every patient who comes through its doors.

However, recent arguments before the Supreme Court relating to EMTALA, as well as the post-Dobbs legislative landscape, have shown the potential to create – or increase – health care inequities and conflicts with EMTALA.

ENA is unwavering in its support for EMTALA as the rule of law for emergency department care as it puts the health and well-being of every patient at the forefront.

ENA believes undermining EMTALA with a patchwork of state laws not rooted in scientific evidence puts patients at risk of being denied care and creates confusion among emergency nurses – and the entire emergency care team – as to the legal obligations and ramifications of their best life-saving efforts to treat patients in the emergency department.

- ENA President Chris Dellinger, MBA, BSN, RN, FAEN

You can learn more about ENA’s “Access to Quality Healthcare” position statement here.

The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at www.ena.org.

ENA Media Contact

Dan Campana

Director of Communications