Can a physician assistant or nurse practitioner sign off on an EMTALA transfer certification?
OUR ANSWER FROM HORTYSPRINGER ATTORNEY DAN MULHOLLAND:
The EMTALA regulations at 42 CFR §489.24(e)(1)(ii) allow a “qualified medical person” such as an N.P. or P.A. to sign the transfer certification if a physician is not physically present in the emergency department at the time an individual is transferred. The regulation reads as follows:
(B) A physician (within the meaning of Section 1861(r)(1) of the Act) has signed a certification that, based upon the information available at the time of transfer, the medical benefits reasonably expected from the provision of appropriate medical treatment at another medical facility outweigh the increased risks to the individual or, in the case of a woman in labor, to the woman or the unborn child, from being transferred. The certification must contain a summary of the risks and benefits upon which it is based; or
(C) If a physician is not physically present in the emergency department at the time an individual is transferred, a qualified medical person (as determined by the hospital in its bylaws or rules and regulations) has signed a certification described in paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(B) of this section after a physician (as defined in Section 1861(r)(1) of the Act) in consultation with the qualified medical person, agrees with the certification and subsequently countersigns the certification. The certification must contain a summary of the risks and benefits upon which it is based.
Therefore, while an N.P. or P.A. can sign an EMTALA transfer certification if they have been categorically designated as a “qualified medical person” in the medical staff bylaws, rules and regulations, a physician needs to countersign it.
If you have a quick question about this, e-mail Dan Mulholland at email@example.com.