If You Are Sent Home from the Hospital Too Soon, Is it Medical Malpractice?

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If you are sent home by a physician or a hospital before you are medically safe to leave, such a decision could constitute medical negligence or medical malpractice. Sometimes medical professionals or hospitals decide to send a patient home too early. That means the patient is released before he or she is medically stable enough to leave the medical facility. 

In situations where the patient must be readmitted to either the same – or a different – medical care facility, or suffers an injury as a result of the premature discharge, you may be able to be compensated for the injuries sustained as a result of that early discharge. 

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Not every mistake that a healthcare professional or medical facility makes will be classified as medical malpractice. Either the action or the inaction in question must fall below what is termed the acceptable medical standard of care for those specific circumstances, and it must cause the patient some kind of harm or injury. 

The “standard of care” is a legal term that is used to describe the level of care that a healthcare worker with the same skills and experience would provide to a patient facing the similar or the same circumstances, and plays an important role in medical malpractice. 

In a situation in which a patient is discharged from the hospital early, the question would be if a similarly experienced and trained healthcare professional would have discharged that patient given that patient’s condition and circumstances at that time. If the answer is no, that they would not have discharged that patient, then that conduct may be used to file a medical malpractice claim. 

But, it is important to note that just because you may have been later admitted to another medical facility does not necessarily mean that you suffered any harm by being prematurely released from the first facility or hospital. If you return and receive the care and treatment you would have been given if you had not been released, and if the delay in that care has not caused you any harm, then you likely do not have any injuries that would provide a proper basis for filing a medical malpractice claim. 

Why Are Patients Sent Home Too Early?

There are many reasons for why a patient may be sent home earlier than needed, including space and staffing issues.

Often, hospitals are overcrowded and are in a hurry to get patients sent home so more patients can be admitted. The hospital could be worried about the number of staff available, as well as the number of beds available to meet the needs of the patients coming in. The hospital may also have a limited surgical volume that it can manage at any given day or time. 

While it sounds unpreventable, discharge decisions have often been determined to be a result of poor hospital management. Studies show that bed and staff shortages often result from poor planning on behalf of hospitals’ management. If you were discharged earlier than you should have been, and you suffered harm, your claim might argue that the physician or the medical facility did the following – 

  • Failed to properly treat and diagnose your condition;
  • Failed to schedule necessary follow-up visits;
  • Failed to conduct proper medical testing before the discharge; and/or, 
  • Failed to ensure that you were medically stable for discharge 

Proving Your Medical Malpractice Claim 

If you have suffered medical malpractice, you will need an expert witness to testify on your behalf. This expert will need to be trained in the same healthcare field as the healthcare provider who discharged you, and they must testify that your care fell below the medical standard and you were discharged too soon. 

If you suffered medical malpractice in Los Angeles, call the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., for a free case review.

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