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How Soon Is Too Soon: Early Hospital Discharges

HospitalGenerally, if a person winds up in the hospital, they want to spend as little time there as possible. However, it is imperative that they not be released too soon, as failure to appropriately monitor a patient can cause significant harm if they relapse or remain insufficiently diagnosed. If you or a loved one have experienced this situation, you may be entitled to compensation.

Reasons for Early Discharge

There are multiple reasons for hospitals to discharge patients too early, and only some of them have to do with a lowered standard of care. Many hospitals, especially public entities, are prone to overcrowding and understaffing, with many hospitals primarily serving minority populations being the most affected. This can have serious consequences: for example, statistics show that ambulance diversions are significantly higher at such hospitals, which can lead to significant harm for patients.

While some reasons for early discharges are beyond the control of hospital staff, some can be charged to negligence or simple error. Adults may be released before testing or monitoring is complete, such as in the case of a patient receiving an artificial implant or pacemaker. Infants may be released before their vital signs have stabilized, or before testing has been concluded to rule out any kind of birth injury or infection. Some of these may result in readmittances, but the mere fact that a discharged patient is readmitted to the hospital does not constitute an admission of early discharge.

Negligence or Mistake

As with any other medical malpractice issue, a mere medical mistake does not necessarily rise to the level of negligence. Four criteria must be proven in order to show medical negligence; if even one is missing, the defendant may be able to argue that they simply made a mistake. Three are relatively straightforward, with one even being mandated by California state law - the existence of a duty of care between the patient and their treating physician. The others require showing that (1) that duty was breached; (2) the breach was a direct result of the defendant physician’s conduct; and (3) actual harm was suffered by the patient as a result. In most cases, only the breach of duty is difficult to show.

The reason that a breach of a physician’s duty of care is often difficult to show, especially in early discharge cases, is that one must be able to determine the standard of care for that particular situation. Essentially, the plaintiff must be able to show that another reasonably careful medical professional of similar age, experience and ability would not have authorized such an early discharge - and in some cases, this is simply not possible.

Seek Experienced Assistance

Being discharged from the hospital too soon may seem welcome, but there are times in which it can be actively hazardous to one’s health. If you have been negatively affected by an early discharge, and believe you may be the victim of malpractice, consulting an attorney is a good idea. The dedicated San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand that the most important thing for you and yours is to get back to normal if at all possible. We will work hard toward that goal for you. Call us today to set up a free consultation - we serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Benito, Monterey and Alameda.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.