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Early Discharge from Hospitals

Early release from hospital
August 14, 2017

Sometimes patients leave the hospital sooner than they ideally should, and this could either be due to their own decision or the decision of a negligent healthcare professional; it is important to distinguish between either the doctor discharging someone early or an individual leaving earlier than advised upon his or her own accord.

 

Should the patient be discharged?     

According to an article from Nolo.com, in the case of an early discharge of a patient by a doctor or hospital, the question becomes, “Would a similarly-skilled health care professional have discharged me given my condition and other circumstances of my treatment?” and if the answer if no, then an individual may have a potential medical malpractice case. 

 

Examples of issues that can arise due to a premature discharge include: failing to schedule a needed follow-up visit, failing to appropriately diagnose and treat the patient, failing to perform the proper testing before discharge, and failing to confirm the medical stability of the patient.  There are steps you can take if you are concerned you are being prematurely discharged from a hospital.  You can ask the hospital staff for your discharge rights, and discuss with your health care professional your concern that you may be being discharged too soon.

 

What if the patient wants an early discharge?

The situation is reversed when a patient (or the patient’s power of attorney) wants to leave the hospital and the provider disallows or strongly advises against it.  In these instances, a person is said to be leaving A.M.A., or against medical advice.  An article in The New York Times discusses a case in which an 82-year-old man with Alzheimer’s went to the hospital and his family was concerned because he was known to have sleepless nights and experience confusion in hospitals.  By the next morning, the doctor still had not treated this man, and in the meantime the patient had paced for hours, peeled off his heart monitors and grown increasingly restless.  His sister eventually signed the A.M.A. for him, and she protested that he should have been released right from the emergency room. 

 

According to the same article in the New York Times, there are a variety of other reasons why people may want to leave the hospital ranging from needing to go home and feed the cat or simply feeling better.  It is important to note that the same article states that, “…those discharged against medical advice have higher mortality rates and higher rates of hospital readmissions…”.    

 

What to do if you’ve suffered from early medical release

If you have been discharged from the hospital prematurely and you suffered a negative consequence or feel that you did not receive adequate care, please call my office today for a free consultation.  

 

SOURCES

 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/07/health/hospitals-patients-leave-against-medical-advice.html?mcubz=2

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-youre-discharged-too-soon-is-it-medical-malpractice.html