If you have ever been hospitalized for any reason, you probably know the feeling of homesickness that often develops quickly. Even a short hospital stay forces many to wonder how soon they can escape the antiseptic smell, checks by doctors and nurses and at all hours, and the often questionable food. In most cases, a patient must remain in the hospital under he or she is well enough to go home to a relatively non-controlled environment with no—or limited—professional supervision. Unfortunately, however, cost-cutting efforts and other factors have been blamed for the uptick in cases where patients are discharged from the hospital too soon. Early hospital discharge can put lives in danger and open the door to possible medical malpractice claims.
Creating a Plan
Deciding when to send a patient home can be challenging, but the doctor and the patient must work together in developing a discharge plan. The patient knows his or her body and, generally, has a good idea of his or her own limitations. The doctor will better know what symptoms need to be monitored as well as certain conditions that could develop once the patient leaves the hospital. If both the doctor and patient are comfortable with the decision to discharge and the patient fully understands the recommended course of follow-up treatment, it is probably fine for the patient to go home.
Unfortunately, not all medical decisions are based entirely on the individual patient’s symptoms and condition. There are often other factors that play into early discharges. While not all hospitals are for-profit entities, they still rely on revenue generated by providing medical services to patients. A patient who remains in the hospital for observation does not generate as much revenue as another patient who requires intensive care or a battery of diagnostic tests.
The patient may also push too hard to go home without truly understanding the risks. He or she may be anxious to get out and may try to pressure the doctor to agree to the discharge. Combined with the financial pressures from the hospital, the urging of the patient may be enough to get the doctor to relent, despite his or her better judgment.
Reasons to Stay
While the urge to leave may be strong, it is important to remember that there are many more resources available in a hospital setting than at home in case your condition worsens. In addition to the obvious presence of medical staff, hospitals generally offer a better environment for healing and recovery than you would find at home. If your symptoms do recur while you are still in the hospital, they can be properly documented and addressed right away.
If you are discharged from a hospital stay before you are ready and something goes wrong at home, the doctor who approved your discharge could be liable for any injuries you sustain as a result. To learn more about your available options in such a situation, contact an experienced Aurora medical malpractice attorney. Call 630-907-0909 for a free consultation at Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C. today.