While not every poor patient outcome or mistake in judgment by a healthcare professional is medical malpractice, there are times when a patient is discharged from a hospital setting before it is appropriate, leading to serious health consequences and real harm. Often, the patient must be readmitted to the hospital shortly afterwards. In situations like this, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be the only way for the patient to recover the costs of readmission and further treatment for a worsened condition.
Here’s what you should know about premature hospital discharge and medical malpractice lawsuits, and how you can get legal help if you’ve been harmed.
Medical Standards of Care
In every healthcare setting, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals must generally meet what’s called a “duty of care.” This means that they act with a reasonable care, caution, and skill that any other equally trained medical professional would have with a similar patient under similar circumstances or conditions. For instance, it’s generally accepted that any surgeon would ensure that his or her instruments are clean and sterile before a procedure. If the surgeon fails in this basic duty and a patient is hurt by an infection caused by a contaminated scalpel, it may be considered medical malpractice, and the patient can file a lawsuit seeking compensation.
With a premature hospital discharge, there is a duty of care to ensure that releasing the patient from the hospital is the right choice for the patient’s health. If another doctor with similar training and skills would not have agreed to the discharge, that might be a breach of the duty of care. However, it’s not medical malpractice unless harm has been suffered due to that breach of duty.
Mere inconvenience at having to return to the hospital is usually not grounds for a lawsuit—you also must have been hurt due to the negligent decision to release you from the hospital. For instance, if your early release lead directly to a worsened condition or further complications that would not have happened if you hadn’t been discharged, it may be time for a medical malpractice suit.
Recovering Damages From a Medical Malpractice Suit
Any medical malpractice lawsuit is likely going to require proving four key elements in a court of law. You and your attorney must be able to show that:
- A duty of care existed between you and the healthcare provider.
- The healthcare provider breached that duty of care.
- Your injuries resulted from the breached duty of care.
- There are damages that can be recovered.
When all four of these facts are proven, you may be able to receive financial compensation for the costs related to your injuries in return. Your personal injury attorney will discuss with you the potential damages you may be able to recover in detail depending on the specifics of your case. This may include economic damages such as payment for hospital bills and emergency treatment costs, repeat or revision surgeries, physical therapy or rehabilitation, therapy costs for the mental or emotional trauma, lost wages due to the time away from work lost future earnings if you’re unable to return to work, and more.
You may also be able to receive compensation for non-economic damages, such as your pain and suffering, though it’s important to note that Texas does place a cap on this type of recovery. Your attorney will be able to tell you what you’re eligible to receive.
Get Legal Help Today
If you believe that you’ve suffered harm due to a premature hospital discharge, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to review your case and discuss your legal options.
Wayne Wright LLP has been advocating for patients who have been harmed by medical malpractice and negligence for decades now, and we’d like to help you, too. To speak to a legal professional about your situation, contact us by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.