Green v. Touro Infirmary, 992 F.2d 537, 1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 13101 (5th Cir. 1993)

The patient presented to the emergency room with complaints of swelling in her extremities, pain in her shoulder, dizziness, headaches, and numbness in her right hand. Vital signs were taken and a medical history was taken. It was discovered that the patient had spent the three nights in another hospital, which was contacted to obtain the results of the patient’s lab tests. The patient was examined by two ER physicians and she was diagnosed with acute nephrotic syndrome. Although she was treated for seven hours, she was told to return to the prior hospital due to insurance issues. The patient was discharged and died soon after of complications not specified in the opinion.

In response to a motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s failure to stabilize claims, the plaintiff proffered only a note from a treating physician stating that it would have been appropriate to repeat the patient’s renal function tests prior to discharge. The court disagreed and found, even on the limited record, that the “evidence leads to the inescapable inference that [the patient] was in a stable condition” when discharged, relying on affidavits from the physicians that the patient was treated, was ambulatory, was in no apparent distress, and had stable vital signs (despite slightly elevated BP).

Notes: A fairly typical failure to stabilize case. This case does, implicitly, recognize the need for expert testimony to prove an EMTALA claim, as the court specifically highlighted the plaintiff’s failure to proffer an expert report.