Patients are being discharged increasingly earlier from hospitals, even after severe illnesses and dangerous procedures. The result is that many people suffer harm, becoming sicker and even being admitted to emergency departments. Early discharge is controversial because both hospitals and insurance companies financially benefit while there is little advantage for patients.
When Is Early Discharge Okay?
Most people do not enjoy being in the hospital and are eager to leave as soon as physicians and other hospital staff say it is safe. We depend on medical personnel to make right decisions with our health and safety in mind. In most cases, hospitals will release patients who:
• have had their underlying problem, the reason for admission, treated
• have been improving steadily with no major setbacks for a set period
• have stable vital signs
• have tested negative for common complications such as infection
• are capable of caring for themselves or have a willing and able caregiver
• have a follow-up an appointment
• understand their medication, treatment plan, and when to seek medical care
When a patient is released without meeting these criteria, it may be medical malpractice.
Early Discharge and Medical Malpractice
First discharge becomes medical malpractice when a patient is released who, according to modern knowledge and standards of medical care, was not healthy and healing at the point of discharge or who could not safely continue their recovery without medical supervision.
Many patients who are released before it is safe are often readmitted to the hospital or visiting the emergency room. They may need more medical care than otherwise would be necessary, sustain damage from their condition worsening while they were home, or merely be at higher risk for future complications. These complications would not have occurred if the patient had been kept in the hospital until they were stable enough to be released.
Medical Malpractice Legal Requirements
There are four legal requirements for a medical malpractice case. First, the medical staff must have been responsible for your care. This is very easy to prove. If they were able to discharge you, then they were medical caregivers.
Second, the medical staff and doctors must have acted negligently. They must have breached the guidelines for release or otherwise failed to act in your best interest. The third guideline is that there must be a resulting injury. In most cases, early release leads to injuries that are easy to prove: readmittance to the hospital, health problems or pain from complications, more procedures, or even a higher chance of future health concerns.
Last, the patient’s injuries must have resulted directly from the incompetent behavior, which in this case is the early discharge. This can be more complicated to prove, but medical experts often can examine a patient’s records and testify that the first release led to the injury.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in any way from being discharged too early, it is important to see an attorney and also get evaluated by a doctor who does not have an alliance with the people who are responsible for your injury. Medical problems are costly at best and deadly at worst, so individuals who were victims of early discharge need to be compensated.