Medical malpractice occurs when the action of a medical professional or facility falls below the accepted standard of care under the circumstances, resulting in harm to the patient. The standard of care is the level of care that a health care professional with similar skills would have provided to the patient under the same or similar circumstances. With regards to patients who have been discharged early, the issue is whether a health care professional with similar skills would have discharged the patient given their condition and the circumstances of the treatment.
Reasons for Early Discharge
Overcrowding in hospitals often leads to a rush to get current patients out so that new patients can be admitted. There may be concerns over the number of beds, or staff, available to care for patients. There may also be a limit on the amount of surgical volume that is manageable at any given time.
Patients who have been discharged early and harmed as a result may have a claim for medical malpractice. The patient’s arguments to prove this claim may include the failure to:
- Conduct proper testing before discharge,
- Ensure medical stability,
- Properly diagnose and treat the patient, and/or
- Schedule necessary follow-up visits.
It is important however for patients to understand that simply being readmitted does not mean that he or she was “harmed” by being discharged prematurely. Patients may return and receive treatment he or she may have received had they remained in the hospital and if the delay in treatment does not result in harm that would not have been otherwise experienced, then the patient has not been “harmed” for the purposes of medical malpractice.
Preventing Premature Discharge
If you feel that that a health care professional or facility may be discharging you prematurely, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Make a request for you discharge rights from the hospital.
- Discuss your discharge with the health care professional responsible for your treatment.
- Make sure to speak up if you are still in pain or have a limited ability to care for yourself at home.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a premature discharge, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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