Though we trust our medical professionals with, quite literally, our lives, they are not infallible. There are situations when medical professional make a decision that leads to a “too-early” discharge. In these situations, a patient is sent home before they are stable enough, medically, to do so.
If a patient is discharged and then readmitted to a health-care facility in a short period of time for the same or related problem(s), it could be a sign that the patient was discharged before they were medically ready and may be grounds for pursuing a medical malpractice claim.
The Basics of Medical Malpractice
You may have heard friends or family discussing the idea of suing a doctor or hospital for medical malpractice (also called “med mal”), but it is important to remember that not every bad outcome in the medical field constitutes a legal claim of medical malpractice. Sometimes doctors and their staff have done everything in their power to prevent an injury or illness from getting worse or a patient suffers from a condition that could not be detected immediately.
Medical malpractice is a mistake made at a health-care facility by a health-care professional.
In order for the mistake to be considered medical malpractice, the mistake must be far outside the “standard of care” one should expect under the circumstances. Standard of care is a legal term used to describe the type of care a practitioner with the same level of skill would provide in the same situation. The mistake must result in some form of harm to the patient.
Medical Malpractice for Early Discharge
If you are discharged from a medical facility too early and are then readmitted for the same issue, or complexities arising from the original issue, you may have a right to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
If a doctor or hospital in a similar position would not have sent you home when your doctor or hospital did, it could mean that the medical facility or doctor acted outside the standard of care.
Individuals pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit must then be able to demonstrate that they were harmed in some way beyond the inconvenience of traveling from and returning to the hospital.
This type of harm could be a worsening in your condition, or an additional problem that arose because of your discharge. Potential claims may arise if:
- No follow-up appointment is scheduled when it is necessary
- There was a failure to diagnose or treat you properly
- Patient was not medically stable before discharge or;
- Necessary testing was not conducted.
Proving Your Claim
Almost all medical malpractice cases require an expert witness to testify at trial. This expert is usually experienced in the same field as the doctor or other professional who discharged the patient and will testify that, based on his or her experience, the discharge fell below the standard of care under the circumstances. In addition, The expert will also testify as to how and why the patient has been harmed due to the discharge.
If you settle out of court, you may never need an expert to testify on your behalf, though some states require an affidavit signed by an expert to be provided when you file your medical malpractice case. The affidavit will state that your case has merit and should proceed. It may include the same information that the expert would have been provided at trial. It is crucial that you seek advice from a qualified legal professional before moving forward with your case.
What Is Recoverable?
When you are looking to recover damages in a medical malpractice case, you may be surprised at what you can recover in damages when your doctor makes the mistake of discharging you too early. Naturally, you can seek the payment of the additional medical bills you incurred as a result of the discharge, though not the bills that you would have had regardless of the error.
You may also claim your lost earnings for the time off from your job as a result of your early discharge, and if you find yourself unable to perform certain activities that are part of your job, you may also receive compensation. You may also be entitled to seek payment for “pain and suffering”.
Determining whether a patient has been discharged too early from medical supervision is a complicated process. Due to the wide variety of situations, it is always advised that you seek legal counsel.
How we can help you
If you believe you or a loved one has been discharged too early from medical supervision, you may be entitled to seek compensation under the law. Call Tucker, Nong and Associates for a free evaluation of your case. Our highly qualified personal injury lawyers can make sure your rights are properly represented in court.