Liability in Triage: Management of EMTALA Regulations and Common Obstetric Risks


  • Diane J. Angelini CNM, EdD,

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    • Diane J. Angelini, CNM, EdD, FACNM, FAAN, is Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, Brown University and Director of Nurse Midwifery at Women & Infants' Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. She is Senior Editor of the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing.

  • Laura R. Mahlmeister RN, PhD

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    • Laura R. Mahlmeister, RN, PhD, is President of Mahlmeister and Associates and provides risk management consultation. She also practices as a staff nurse in the Maternal-Newborn Division at San Francisco General Hospital.

Diane J. Angelini, CNM, EdD, FACNM, FAAN, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brown University, Director, Nurse Midwifery, Women & Infants Hospital, Providence, RI 02905. E-mail:


The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) affects all clinicians who provide triage care for pregnant women. EMTALA has specific regulations for hospitals relative to women in active labor. Violations can carry stiff penalties. It is critical for clinicians performing obstetric triage to understand the duties and obligations of this law. This article discusses EMTALA and reviews common liability risks in obstetric triage as well as strategies to modify those risks.