Archive for the ‘Hospital Discharge’ Category

The Hospital Discharge

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Some words on being discharged: Remember to retrieve your medications before discharge (your personal supply will most likely have been taken from you on admission).

Obviously, you cannot be discharged from a hospital because your caregivers find you difficult. Moreover, you cannot be discharged absent reasonable medical judgment that you are well enough to leave. This latter rule is fortified by the malpractice statutes. Furthermore, you may request further hospitalization if you do not feel well enough to be discharged or transferred. If you are a Medicare and Medicaid patients, The Federal Government has ruled that before discharge, you have a legal right to demand further inpatient care, if you sincerely feel you are not well enough to leave. Fortunately, this issue rarely comes up. (In general, the less time you spend in the hospital, the better, considering the perils of hospital-acquired infections.)

At times, although your experience can be likened to incarceration, your confinement was voluntary and not court-ordered: the hospital is Not a prison. You cannot be kept there against your wishes for a single hour, nor can you be prevented, as some patients believe, from leaving on the basis of an unpaid bill or lack of insurance. You can fire your doctor or walk out the door any time you are fed up with your treatment or for any compelling personal reason. In this case the hospital quite reasonably, for reasons of liability, requires you to sign a release stating that you are leaving “AMA” (against medical advice).

On balance, however, nothing beats good rapport with the staff, your doctors, nurses, interns, residents, and technicians. Hospitalization should be remembered as, if not necessarily a happy, at least a health-restoring experience. You can be assertive, yet remain as polite and cooperative as you expect your caregivers to be. Never forget, you may be the patient, but you are also a paying customer, and have the right to demand the best medical care available.