CHA News Article

CDPH Addresses Psychiatric Emergency Conditions

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued an All Facility Letter (AFL) in response to questions regarding the applicability of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to the transfer of patients with psychiatric emergencies. Per state law effective Jan. 1, 2010, acute psychiatric hospitals and general acute-care hospitals must provide the care and treatment necessary to relieve or eliminate a psychiatric emergency medical condition within the capability of the facilities, including admission or transfer to a psychiatric unit. Federal regulations include “psychiatric disturbances and/or symptoms of substance abuse” in the definition of an emergency medical condition. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ interpretive guidelines further clarify that an individual expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts or gestures, who can be determined to be a danger to self or others, would be considered to manifest an emergency medical condition. The CDPH AFL is attached.