These days, it seems like all hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed, so it’s no wonder they’re in a hurry to get patients out the doors as fast as possible.
But what happens if you’re discharged too early, and your condition isn’t really stable? If you end up right back in the hospital a few hours later or the next day, is that really medical malpractice? It depends.
Was the discharge made within a reasonable standard of care?
Medical malpractice claims always look at the individual circumstances surrounding a claim and whether the hospital, physician and others acted in a way that falls below an acceptable standard of care. This standard looks at whether any other reasonable health care professional would have done the same, given the situation and their knowledge.
That means that not all premature discharges are malpractice, but you may have a claim if a provider skipped some critical tests, your overall condition wasn’t really assessed by the right people before you were released or the proper specialist wasn’t consulted in your case. In some cases, the provider could be liable for your injuries if you weren’t asked for your input on the decision.
Were you harmed as a result of the premature discharge?
Another question that has to be considered is whether you were actually harmed as a result of the premature discharge. If the premature discharge and any delay in treatment didn’t actually worsen your condition, that wouldn’t give rise to a medical malpractice claim – even if you end up back in the hospital within hours.
Readmissions do happen frequently, especially with patients who have serious or chronic conditions. However, studies indicate that roughly 25% of readmissions could be prevented simply by moving a patient’s discharge back a little. That alone can often make it clear whether a patient is really ready to go home – or not.
If you believe that an early hospital discharge led to tragic results for you or a family member, it is important to understand the complex rules surrounding medical malpractice claims. However, doing so can be difficult on your own. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you to decide on the next steps to take in informed ways.