With too many patients and not enough beds, Syracuse hospitals face tremendous pressure to discharge patients as soon as possible. Nevertheless, hospitals owe patients a duty to not discharge them until it is reasonably safe to do so. Doctors also must give patients proper instructions on how to care for themselves at home before being discharged.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers see many patients injured because hospitals were in a rush to get them out the door. These patients often end up sicker than before—and right back in the hospital, though this time with a worse prognosis and even more medical bills.
Why Hospitals Discharge Patients Too Early
The decision to discharge a patient is complicated. Obviously, patients can’t stay in the hospital until they are feeling 100% well. In that case, people would be at the hospital for months. However, when discharged too soon, patients will lack the supportive care they need to recover.
Many hospitals have checklists that doctors and administrators work through to help them decide whether to send a patient home. Nevertheless, early discharge happens frequently. Why?
Some common reasons include:
- Financial pressure. The hospital might want to free up a bed for a patient with more generous insurance so that the hospital makes more money.
- Inaccurate test results. Inaccurate test results might show a patient making a stronger recovery than they really are. Believing the test, doctors discharge the patient.
- Miscommunication. Information could be entered improperly on patient records, which leads to a premature discharge.
- Carelessness. The medical team could simply fail to work through their checklists out of laziness, confusion, or complacency. Had the team been more diligent in fulfilling their duties, then the patient would have stayed in the hospital longer.
Why Early Discharge Harms Patients
Some patients might not suffer any negative side effects if sent home a week early. They are lucky. Other patients can end up even sicker and need to be readmitted to the hospital.
Someone who suffered a stroke, for example, could suffer another one at home after being released early from the hospital. A lack of monitoring is often to blame. Treatment is also delayed because the patient needs to be transported back to the hospital first.
Other patients receive inadequate instructions for at-home care, usually because the hospital was in a hurry to discharge them. These patients could suffer wound infection, pain, and other avoidable complications.
Suing for Premature Discharge
We can meet with any patient who thinks they might have been released from the hospital too soon. You can sue for medical malpractice if your medical team didn’t follow the correct standards of care for discharge. This might mean ignoring checklists, misinterpreting lab results, or pushing someone out the door when motivated by financial gain. Contact us to learn more. It is possible to receive compensation to cover the costs of readmission, additional medical care, pain, lost income, and other losses. We can review the evidence to determine whether you have a case under New York law.