Can Hospital Patients Sue For Discharge Complications?

When a patient receives an early hospital discharge, only to experience medical complications shortly afterward, that patient may be entitled to financial compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can review the patient’s case to determine if there are legal grounds for a lawsuit.

Important Considerations In Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

In legal cases involving complications from an early hospital release, a patient must prove several important elements to have a viable malpractice case. First, he or she must prove the existence of a physician-patient relationship and duty of care. This is the easiest element to prove. If a hospital, physician, or nurse has the authority to discharge a patient, the responsibility for the patient’s care lies with one of them.

Second, the patient must prove that the early release resulted from negligence, or that duty of care was breached. This element is much harder to establish. The patient carries the burden of proof that the hospital, physician, or nurse violated a reasonable standard of care by authorizing an early discharge — when another medical professional would not have released the patient at that time. Determining negligence depends on highly-detailed information involving the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and treatment at the time of discharge.

Third, the patient must prove that the early release caused certain medical complications or damages. This element may be the hardest thing to prove. A patient and his or her attorney must consider numerous important questions.

Did the early release cause further medical complications? Were they made worse by occurring outside the hospital? Did early release delay diagnosis and treatment of the complications, or was it their direct cause? Only a medical malpractice attorney, along with the testimony of an expert medical witness, can best address these issues.

Fourth, the patient must prove that damages resulted from either medical negligence, or from the early hospital discharge. Early release damages can range in severity from minor costs to increased health risks to death. Financial loss may be another possible claim.