3. What is an "emergency medical condition"?
An attempt is made by the statute to provide a definition, but as usually happens, the legal definition leaves much to be desired. The determination is ultimately a medical one rather than a legal one. That is not to say that it is sheltered from review. As is the case with any medical decision, it must often be made quickly, with such information as is available, and is subject to critical retrospective review by physicians testifying as expert witnesses in the alien setting of the courtroom, in the event of litigation.
The definition provided under the statute is:
"A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in --
placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy,
serious impairment to bodily functions, or
serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part, or
"With respect to a pregnant woman who is having contractions --
that there is inadequate time to effect a safe transfer to another hospital before delivery, or
that the transfer may pose a threat to the health or safety of the woman or her unborn child."