A doctor or hospital may make the decision to discharge a patient too early. That means discharging, before the patient is considered medically stable. In these cases, the patient is often readmitted for the same treatment, or additional treatments, because of the early discharge. If the patient suffers injury, or if the early discharge issues could have been prevented, then the hospital or physician could be held liable for malpractice.
Medical malpractice is often used synonymously with medical errors, but an error is not necessarily malpractice. The action in question must breach the acceptable and practiced standard of care within that physician’s specialty to be considered negligent (and therefore, eligible for malpractice). The standard of care refers to a level of care that another physician – in the same field and of the same skill – would have provided the patient, under a similar situation.
Therefore, if a physician would not have discharged the patient, then the physician who did could be considered negligent – because he or she breached the standard duty of care.
It is equally important to note that, just because a patient is readmitted, does not mean that there was any negligence involved. Sometimes, patients are readmitted for non-related issues or complications with their original condition – but due to the fault of the physician. Lastly, if the patient is not harmed by the readmission or early discharge, there is no case for malpractice.
Hospitals face overcrowding, and often have too little staff on hand to adequately care for their patients. To make room for new patients, hospitals will sometimes discharge patients too early. At times, hospitals are worried about the number of beds available, while others may be limited on staff.
While it may sound like something that the hospital cannot avoid, numerous studies have already shown that hospitals can prevent these types of shortages – and often, these shortages are caused by poor planning on the hospital’s part.
When patients are discharged too early and they suffer injury, they may be able to make the argument for malpractice. They may also be able to make the argument that their early discharge led to:
You will need to prove that the early discharge led to your injuries. In almost all cases, this will require an expert testimony from another physician who agrees that the early discharge led to your injuries. The expert will need to be trained, and practice in the same field as the doctor whom you are holding responsible for your injuries. The expert will need to provide detailed information about how the discharge affected your health and what could have been prevented, had you remained in the hospital.
Were you discharged from the hospital too early and, as a result, suffered from serious injury? You may be entitled to compensation under the law. To see if your case qualifies, speak with a medical malpractice attorney.
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.