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The Dangers Associated With Hospital Discharge Errors

When you visit a hospital, you have the right to expect your doctor and medical team to adhere to the correct standards of care. This includes not being discharged from a hospital as a patient until it is safe for you to be sent home or to a different facility providing a lower level of care. If a physician makes the mistake of negligently discharging you too early as a patient, you could suffer a serious injury.

What Is Premature Hospital Discharge?

It is important for a patient to remain in the hospital until it is reasonably safe for him or her to leave. If a patient undergoes a surgery, for example, hospital staff members must monitor the patient for any signs of adverse reactions or complications after the procedure, such as infections. If a patient is released from the medical center too early, it is known as premature hospital discharge. This is a type of medical malpractice that can result in the type of injury that leads to a lawsuit filed by the patient or his or her family, in certain situations.

Why Is Early Hospital Discharge Dangerous for a Patient?

According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 20 percent of patients experience adverse events within three weeks of being discharged from a hospital. Approximately three-quarters of these adverse events could have been prevented by keeping the patient in the hospital for a longer period of time. The most common procedural complication noted after discharge is an adverse drug event. This means a patient has a bad reaction to a drug that he or she is prescribed after an operation or treatment.

A patient who is discharged too early from a hospital could suffer many adverse health events, however, including:

  • Medication errors, such as overdose or underdose
  • Hospital-acquired infections
  • Illnesses from a weakened immune system
  • Weakness or falls
  • Blood clots or pulmonary embolism
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney or organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Strokes 
  • Seizures 
  • Wrongful death

A potential issue known as post-hospitalization syndrome can increase the risk of complications after discharge. This is when the increased stress of being in the hospital leaves a patient vulnerable to falls and other health issues. Proper patient monitoring is critical after a patient has been seen or treated by a doctor in a hospital setting. Discharging a patient prematurely can make doctors miss the signs of something wrong. 

What Causes Hospital Discharge Errors?

No patient should be prematurely or improperly discharged from a hospital in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, not all health care centers or medical practitioners fulfill their duties of care when treating and monitoring patients. Many hospitals are understaffed and overcrowded, which can force staff members to quickly rotate out patients to make new beds available. In other cases, hospital staff may not be properly trained in how to monitor patients and decide if they are ready to be discharged. 

Communication is key in preventing premature hospital discharge. Sometimes, a patient’s positive health outcome relies on the patient returning to the hospital at a later date for a follow-up appointment. If the patient misses this appointment, he or she runs the risk of an adverse health event. Proper patient education at the time of discharge is critical to allow the patient to address his or her follow-up needs. The patient should also fully understand his or her medications and treatment regime to follow it correctly once home.

If the hospital or one of its staff members should have kept you admitted to the hospital longer than you were, it can be responsible for losses resulting from to the discharge error, such as additional necessary medical care or your pain and suffering. By filing a medical malpractice claim in Philadelphia, you can hold the hospital accountable and get the compensation that you need to move forward. If you believe you have grounds for a lawsuit due to a patient discharge error, consult with an attorney at Youman & Caputo for assistance.