Is Early Discharge Medical Malpractice?

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

There are times when a doctor or hospital will make the decision to discharge a patient before they are medically stable enough to safely go home.  If the situation arises where the patient needs to be readmitted to the same, or another, facility, the decision to discharge the patient may be considered medical malpractice.

In order for an action, or inaction, to be considered medical malpractice, it must fall below the accepted medical standard of care under the circumstances, and the patient must be injured.  “Standard of care” describes the level of care a health care professional who is similarly-skilled would provide a patient, under the same or similar circumstances.  In this case the question would be, “Given my condition and under the circumstances of my treatment, would a different health care professional with similar skills have discharged me?”  If the answer to that question is no, then the patient may have a viable case for medical malpractice.

However, simply being readmitted does not necessarily mean that the patient was “harmed” because they were prematurely discharged.  If the patient returns to the facility, or goes to another facility, and receives treatment that s/he would have received had they remained in the hospital, and the patient is not harmed in any way that they would not otherwise be, the patient has not been “harmed” for the purposes of medical malpractice.

Reasons for Early Discharge

Overcrowded hospitals may feel a rush to get current patients out so that new patients can be admitted.  There may be concerns about the number of beds, or staff, available.  There may also be a limit on the amount of surgical volume that the hospital can manage at any given time. 

Proving Your Claim

If a patient’s case makes it to trial, in almost every case, that patient will need an expert witness to testify on their behalf.  This expert is typically trained and has experience in the same field as the health care professional that discharged the patient.  S/he will need to testify that by discharging the patient, that health care professional fell below the medical standard of care under those circumstances.  Detailed information about how the patient was harmed due to the decision to send the patient home will also be needed.

Damages

If it is established that the early discharge of the patient was medical malpractice, the patient may be able to recover damages for their:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost earnings
  • Lost ability to earn an income
  • Pain and suffering

If you or a loved was discharged from a hospital too soon, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com

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