Early Hospital Discharge Can Be Medical Malpractice


There are times when a doctor or hospital will make the decision to discharge a patient before he or she is medically stable enough to go home.  Should this occur and the patient then needs to be readmitted to the same, or even different, health care facility, the decision to initially discharge the patient may be considered medical malpractice.

Unfortunately, due to overcrowding, a hospital may rush to get patients discharged so new patients can be let in.  The hospital could be concerned about how many beds, and the amount of staff that are available.  Additionally, the amount of surgical space a hospital has may limit the number of patients they are able to admit may also be limited at any given time.

While this seems like an issue that can’t be prevented, for example because the number of beds available is set, a number of studies have shown that shortages in beds or staff are often the result of poor planning by the hospital.

Patients, who have been discharged too early and were harmed as a result, may be able to file a claim and argue that the defendant:

  • Did not schedule a necessary follow-up visit,
  • Did not properly diagnose or treat the condition,
  • Did not conduct appropriate testing before discharge, and/or
  • Did not ensure the medical stability of the patient.

In order for the patient to prove their claim, he or she will need an expert witness to testify on their behalf.  Generally, the expert will need to have training and experience in the same field as the health care professional that discharged the patient.  The expert will also need to testify that the decision to have the patient discharged fell below the medical standard of care under those circumstances.  Additionally, detailed information regarding how the patient was harmed due to the early discharge will also need to be provided.

If you or a loved one are concerned about whether a health care professional or health care facility may be having you discharged too soon, you can take steps to protect yourself, such as:

  • Request that the hospital provide you with your discharge rights.
  • Ask to speak with the health care professional who is treating you.
  • Express your concerns if you are still in pain or are limited in your ability to care for yourself.

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 jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  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.