Is Early Discharge from a Hospital Considered Medical Malpractice?
There are times a hospital or physician may discharge a patient too early. That means they released the patient when they were not medically stable to be released. In these situations, the patient is often readmitted to the hospital or a different treating hospital; therefore, early discharge could be considered medical malpractice if the patient suffered from an injury.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
Not all errors by medical professionals are considered malpractice. It is about their action (or lack of action) and whether or not it was under a reasonable level of care. If that action or lack of action falls below a medical standard of care, then the medical professional may be held liable for their actions in court.
A standard of care is a legal term that assesses the level of care the physician provided and then compares it to the level of care that other physicians in a similar position would provide.
Just because a patient was discharged and then readmitted does not necessarily mean that the physician failed to perform within a reasonable standard of medical care. Also, that does not mean that the patient was harmed by the early discharge. If a patient is readmitted and receives the care they would have received if they stayed in the hospital, then they may have a case for medical malpractice.
Why Do Hospitals Discharge Patients Too Early?
Hospitals and overnight care facilities are often overbooked and understaffed. While that is not an excuse for sending a patient home early, they are in a rush to clear beds for new patients. The hospital may also be limited as to how many surgical patients they can have in-house at a single time. While this may seem like an issue that can easily be prevented, studies have shown that hospital shortages and understaffing is a nationwide problem. And, it is the result of poor planning by the hospitals.
If a patient is discharged too early, and the patient suffers from injury or harm because of that early discharge, then there may be an argument for medical malpractice especially if:
- The staff did not schedule any necessary follow-up appointments
- The staff failed to make sure the patient was medically stable
- The staff failed to test the patient to ensure their medical stability before releasing them
- The staff failed to diagnose and treat the reason the patient was in the hospital in the first place
Damages That a Patient Can Recover in a Discharge Case
When a patient is discharged too early from the hospital, there are certain damages that they may be able to recover. A patient must first establish that they were discharged too early, then their attorney may be able to ensure they get compensation for:
- Medical Costs – This will be limited to the costs associated with the follow up treatment and the treatment that was not given at the time the patient was in the hospital. Any future costs that occur because the patient was released too early can also be covered, but other medical costs for underlying conditions or those unrelated to the discharge will not be eligible for compensation.
- Lost Earnings – If a patient missed work because of their early discharge, then they can be compensated for the earnings that they lost from that extra medical care.
- Ability to Earn Income – If the early discharge leads to permanent injury or disability, then the patient’s ability to earn income in the future can also be compensated in a medical malpractice case.
- Pain and Suffering – Because the patient was discharged too early, they suffered from unnecessary pain; therefore, they will be compensated for that pain and suffering.
If you were discharged from a hospital too early and then suffered from additional injuries, contact Glotzer & Kobren today. Call us at 561-300-6900 or visit our office in Boca Raton, Florida for a free consultation.