January 11, 2006

VBAC and EMTALA laws

I know a lot of blogs I frequent are those of young children/babies and also pregnancy blogs. The best times of my life were when I was pregnant and when my kids were infants/toddlers. Don't get me wrong, I love the nice independant age they are now, but having a baby is just so exciting and I like to read other's experiences. Anyway, just incase anyone reading my blog is pregnant and worried about the hospital not doing what YOU want, or respecting YOUR wishes, PLEASE READ BELOW...especially if your next child will be VBAC, like my 2nd child was.

This is taken from the Winter 2006 - Number 76 issue of Midwifery Today:

"The federal Emergency Treatment and Advanced Labor Act (EMTALA) requires hopsitals to admit women in active labor and to abide by their treatment wishes until the baby and placenta are delivered. The act was originally passed to prevent hospitals from "dumping" patients who can't pay, but its since been applied in all sorts of other ways and includes specific provisions that apply to laboring women. The attorneys we've consulted on the VBAC ban issue have told us that hosptials are much more afraid of being found in violation of EMTALA than they are of malpractice suits because the act is routinely enforced and each violation subjects them to fines between $50,000 and $100,000. I can't emphasize enough the importance to individuals who may find themselves in this situation of memorizing phrases such as "It's a violation of my rights under EMTALA to force me to undergo a cesarean," or "I'm invoking my right under EMTALA to refuse a, b, c." Whether the hospital in question says it bans VBACs is unimportant; according to EMTALA, you have the right to be admitted to a hospital once you're in active labor and, once admitted, you have the right to refuse any recommended treatment. You can also remind them that VBAC isn't a tratement, it's the natural culmination of a normal physiological process. Cesareans are the treatment. Also, it's helpful to know that EMTALA begins to apply once you are anywhere within 250 feet of a hosptial; you don't have to be in the emergency room. You can be standing in the hospital parking lot, and if they so much as touch you against your express consent, they are in violation of EMTALA. For anyone interested in reading more, we've compiled a legal primer on the rights of pregnant women at: <http://www.birthpolicy.org/.
Editor's Note: To learn more about this important subject, go to
<http://www.emtala.com/>www.emtala.com. There you will find frequently asked questions, as well as links to the statue and case law."