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A Surprising Connection: Premature Discharge and Medical Malpractice

Updated April 1, 2024 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

The best part about a hospital stay is when you finally get to go back home. Leaving the hospital is something to look forward to. However, if a doctor or hospital decides to release you prematurely, your condition could get worse.

Premature discharge—when a patient is discharged from the hospital too early—can have serious consequences. In some cases, it may even be considered medical malpractice.

What Premature Discharge Can Look Like

Premature discharge can take several different forms. It can include the following:

  • Failure to schedule a follow-up visit
  • Failure to refer to a specialist
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition
  • Failure to conduct proper testing prior to discharge
  • Failure to monitor a patient’s vital signs for an appropriate amount of time

Three Types of Premature Discharge

Premature hospital discharges commonly fall under one of three categories.

Infant Premature Discharge

The standard hospital stays for infants is 48 hours for a vaginal delivery and 96 hours for a Cesarean birth, and for good reason—doctors must monitor newborns to ensure they are healthy enough to go home.

Premature Discharge After an ER Visit

An emergency room (ER) environment lends itself to medical errors such as misdiagnoses or the failure to diagnose a condition, and allowing a patient to leave early could exacerbate their health condition.

Early Discharge Following Surgery

Following surgery, patients require extensive monitoring, and a premature discharge could lead to life-threatening complications.

Why Hospitals Discharge Patients Too Early

Hospitals discharge patients prematurely for several reasons. Overcrowding is a concern, and hospitals are often in a rush to make room for new patients. A lack of staff is also problematic and can limit the number of patients a hospital can see at one time. In an effort to generate more revenue, hospitals want a quick turnaround. All of these factors can contribute to premature discharges.

Another issue, of course, is negligence on the part of a doctor. They may decide that a patient is fit to leave the hospital when, in fact, that is not the case.

When Premature Discharge Is Malpractice

Proving medical malpractice can be complicated. In the case of premature discharge, consider how the doctor or hospital failed to meet the standard of care in a case. If the question is “how early is too early,” the response is to see how other medical professionals in similar circumstances would answer.

Did your health get worse as a result of premature discharge? Did you suffer financially due to your early release? Did you require further treatment as a result of the premature discharge? If so, your premature discharge might be a case of medical malpractice.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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