EMTALA and its Relevance to Children & Youth Hospital Admissions

States are reporting that many children and youth are denied admission to hospitals with open beds on the basis that they are “too acute.” Dr. Debra Pinals with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and NASMHPD will provide an overview of the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) that regulates admissions and care of Medicaid-receiving psychiatric hospitals. She will discuss its application to the current crisis of children and youth with high acuity needs in emergency departments. Dr. Brian Hepburn, NASMHPD Executive Director, will provide a state example of how EMTALA was enforced and its impact. 



  • Debra Pinals, MD, Senior Medical & Forensic Advisor, NASMHPD; Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 

  • Brian Hepburn, MD, Executive Director, NASMHPD