Discharged from Hospital Too Soon & Medical Malpractice
Few people relish the thought of hospitalization. The vast majority of those who become hospitalized are highly anxious to leave and return to their families and lives. However, a premature discharge from the hospital before your medical condition warrants can have catastrophic results. For some victims, early discharge can be medical malpractice.
There are many scenarios that can lead to an improper premature discharge including an early discharge from an emergency room visit or being sent home from outpatient same day surgery. Sometimes, a patient who was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit or Cardiac Unit can also be sent home early without proper instruction or continuity of care. Providers can sometimes send patients home without detection of Anesthesia while over-medicating a patient.
The Villari Firm outlines when early hospital discharge qualifies as medical malpractice. If you think your or your loved one’s discharge was too early, call us today at (215) 600-1363 or contact us here for your free consultation.
Medical Malpractice Explained
Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the USA. It occurs when a medical professional deviates from the applicable standard of care and causes harm to the patient. “Standard of care” is a legal term that illustrates the level of care that a similarly situated health care professional would provide to a patient under the same or similar circumstances. A medical malpractice lawsuit may compensate a victim for past, present, and future harm.
Early Discharge from a Hospital
How early is too early for a hospital discharge? To answer this question, you must look to the specific facts in your case and what a licensed medical provider following the standard of care would do. If you were hospitalized for an infection, but your doctor failed to notice you were still running a high temperature when they discharged you, it could be medical malpractice if you suffered harm as a result of the negligence. However, if you insisted on leaving and your doctor gave you instructions and medication, medical malpractice might not apply. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your specific case can help you determine if you have a medical malpractice action.
How Hospitals Discharge Patients Early
In general, hospitals do not want to discharge patients too soon. There are penalties they can suffer if a patient requires re-admittance for the same reason within 30 days of their discharge. The overall goal is to release a patient when they are medically stable, but that may not always happen. Early discharge can take many forms including, when an Emergency Department of the Hospital sends the patient home, after “same day” surgical procedures, after an inpatient hospital stay, or following an urgent care visit. Patients may get discharged too early for various reasons, including overcrowding, rushing recovery, failing to read tests correctly, failing to consider the specific patient needs, or failing to recognize that the patient is not truly medically stable to warrant discharge.
Can You Sue a Hospital for Releasing You Too Early?
Being released from the hospital too early can become a medical malpractice case. The specific facts of your case will determine if you have a viable medical malpractice action. At the minimum, it is necessary to show that you suffered direct harm due to being negligently released too early.
Proving Your Premature Discharge Claim
The burden of evidence, aka, proving your premature discharge claim, is on the party bringing the malpractice suit. It is necessary to show that the harm that the victim suffered was due to the failure/negligence on the part of the medical provider. Medical records, test results, and subsequent emergency readmission for treatment are examples of evidence that is vital to proving your premature discharge claim.
Negligent Premature Discharge
When considering whether negligent premature discharge has occurred, the critical question to ask is what would a medical professional following the standard of care do?
For example, a licensed medical professional treating a patient with symptoms that could indicate a simple condition such as indigestion, but could also be a heart attack, is held to follow a certain standard of care to reach a diagnosis and plan of care. Examples in the standard of care may include ordering specific tests along with taking a proper history and physical assessment. However, if relevant tests are not ordered or misread, the history or assessment is not properly completed, pressure on the medical provider to move patients out quickly, or misdiagnosis occurs, the patient could be prematurely discharged, possibly with the wrong or no medical follow-up treatment. As a result, they may need to seek emergency treatment for the same or worsened condition, and the harm suffered could be permanent or even life-threatening.
Resulting Harm from Early Discharge
Victims can suffer life-threatening harm or worse if they get discharged too early. Emergency readmission is often needed that would not have been necessary if the patient had remained in the hospital under direct medical care and observation. Examples include an infection that was not healed and became progressively worse, a missed diagnosis that results in a more severe medical condition, failure to note symptoms or test results that cause harm to the victim once they have left the hospital.
Potential Recovered Damages
Potential recovered damages can provide for the victim’s expenses and provide closure. While recoveries can vary significantly, in successful cases, they can be significant.
Common examples of damages are:
- Past/Future Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages both past and future
- Pain & Suffering
- Other Non-Economic Damages such as loss of ability to enjoy quality of life or lifestyle
Summary of Premature Discharge from Hospital
A malpractice action resulting from premature discharge from a hospital is a complex and fact-specific matter. If you think your hospital discharged you prematurely, contact the Villari Firm directly at (215) 600-1363 or online by clicking here. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case. With decades of experience and dedication to medical malpractice law, we fight for our client’s rights to get them the justice they deserve.