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The risks of early discharge from a hospital

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 4% of patients in the United States get discharged too early from the hospital.  When a patient leaves the hospital, it usually signals improvement and a step towards recovery.

However, if a doctor discharges a patient too early it can lead to various complications and health risks. It is important to understand the potential issues associated with premature hospital discharge and the importance of appropriate discharge planning.

Potential health complications

The primary concern with early discharge is the risk of unresolved or worsening medical conditions. Patients discharged before they are stable may find that their conditions worsen. This can lead to emergency readmissions, which are stressful and can also expose the patient to additional health risks.

Increased risk of infection

Patients discharged early may not have fully recovered from their initial condition, making them more susceptible to infections. In a home setting, they might not have the same sterile environment and medical supervision that a hospital provides, increasing the risk of complications.

Medication management issues

Proper medication management is important during recovery. Patients discharged early might face challenges in managing their medications, especially if they have not received comprehensive instructions or do not have immediate access to a pharmacy. This can lead to medication errors, which can have serious consequences.

Emotional and psychological impact

Early discharge can also have an emotional and psychological impact. Patients may feel anxious about managing their condition at home without the support of hospital staff. This anxiety can hinder their recovery and affect their overall well-being.

The importance of proper discharge planning

To prevent these issues, hospitals must ensure proper discharge planning. This includes ensuring the patient is ready to go home and that they understand their medication and care instructions. They should also schedule follow-up appointments or home care services if needed.

Patients and their families should feel empowered to ask questions about their care and express any concerns they might have about going home. With careful planning and open communication, the risks associated with early hospital discharge can be significantly reduced.

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