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Safety preempted: When EMTALA and restraining orders collide

      A patient has been stalking Dr. Smith, an emergency physician at St. Mary's Hospital, for months. His stalking behavior has included frequent phone calls and e-mails. The patient has come to the emergency department at Saint Mary's during shifts worked by Dr. Smith several times. He has been in the emergency department 15 times in the last six months for vague complaints. Extensive medical work-ups have been negative. The patient frequently leaves against medical advice. He has been seen by multiple consultants including psychiatry, who diagnosed him with malingering and gave no other psychiatric diagnosis. When seen by Dr. Smith, he is frequently verbally aggressive and threatening. At the last ED visit, the patient assaulted Dr. Smith. Given the behavior, Dr. Smith obtained a restraining order against the patient, who continues to regularly go to the emergency department and continues to make threatening statements to staff members about Dr. Smith. Should Dr. Smith have to treat this patient?
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