From the moment a patient is diagnosed with a health condition at a hospital, the attending physician and team generally start planning the patient’s discharge. They make their best predictions for discharging a patient once they know the patient’s course of treatment. In most cases, their predictions are correct as they balance a patient’s medical condition with an average recovery time based on the patient’s age and health. However, sometimes a patient may take longer to recover than a physician estimated. Unfortunately, some patients are discharged from the hospital too soon and suffer as a result.
Medical professionals should know when it is safe to discharge a patient. If a doctor’s timeframe for discharging a patient ends up being too early, a patient can be put at risk for suffering serious health issues that could have been avoided altogether or appropriately managed at the hospital. When this occurs and a doctor releases a patient too early, it is known as premature discharge from a hospital.
Reasons Patients Are Prematurely Discharged
Hospitals are guilty of releasing patients too soon for various reasons. Some of the most common causes of a patient being discharged too early include:
- Overcrowded hospitals. This may mean that the hospital doesn’t have enough beds available for new patients and may be in a hurry to release current patients in order to free up beds. As a result, patient care may be rushed and some patients may be sent home before they are medically stable.
- Lack of staff. When medical professionals are overworked due to a low staff to patient ratio, they are more likely to miss something or make a critical error because they are rushed to conclude a case. Unfortunately, the attending physician may be extremely busy, failing to conduct the proper tests and assessments prior to discharging a patient.
When Is Early Discharge Considered Medical Malpractice?
It is important to note that while not every case of premature discharge turns into a medical malpractice claim, it does if the patient suffers further harm as a result of being released too early. This means that just because a patient is readmitted to the hospital for the same thing or a similar medical concern after being released just hours or days earlier doesn’t automatically mean that a patient has a medical malpractice claim.
In order to find out if you have a medical malpractice claim for being prematurely released from Inova or another hospital, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did your health get worse or did you suffer further harm as a result of the premature discharge?
- Did you suffer additional expenses related to your early release (e.g., medical bills, lost income, and other costs)?
Proving Medical Malpractice
In order to establish that medical negligence was the cause of a hospital releasing you too soon, the following things need to be proven:
- An attending physician failed to provide the level of care that another health care provider would have provided under the same set of circumstances. For instance, did the doctor fail to properly diagnose and treat you?
- A hospital prematurely discharged you when another hospital wouldn’t have allowed you to go home under the same circumstances. For instance, were tests taken or assessments done to ensure you were medically stable prior to release?
In order to prove your claim for medical malpractice, you will need to speak with an attorney experienced in this field of law. Lawyers with this experience will investigate your case and get an expert witness to testify that medical negligence occurred, which led to your premature discharge and further harm.
Whether the hospital is guilty of poor planning or the doctor made a critical error and you suffered as a result of being released from the hospital too soon, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Call our law firm to learn more about your rights in a free consultation.