HCA, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, is rolling out a system-wide emergency-room screening program aimed at reducing the number of patients with non-emergent or non-urgent medical conditions seen at HCA facilities.

Under the program, a physician or specially trained nurse during an initial medical screening classifies an ER patient as “immediate or emergent,” “urgent,” or “non-emergent or non-urgent.” Non-emergent and non-urgent patients are shunted off to the registration department, where they can decide to stay for treatment but only if they pay. Patients with insurance must pay their insurance co-payment or deductible. Patients without insurance must pay a $150 facility fee up front. Non-emergent and non-urgent who decline to pay then leave without further treatment.

This is not a good idea. How many patients in need of immediate medical care will be pushed out the door? Wonder what effect this new policy will have on the HCA hospitals in Western Virginia which include Lewis-Gale Medical Center, Alleghany Regional Hospital, Montgomery Regional Hospital, and Pulaski Community Hospital ?

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at