The Dangers of Being Released from the ER Too Soon

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Emergency rooms are busy and hectic places. This sentiment is particularly true in bustling metropolitan areas like Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Under stressed circumstances, hospital staff members could feel the pressure to discharge a patient before they are medically ready. Releasing a patient without a thorough examination and without proper clearance increases the risk of hospital readmissions, adverse events relating to medication or an undiagnosed condition, and even death. Even with these very real and very present risks, one in five people are discharged from the hospital too soon, according to a 2017 study of 32,000 patients from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

When Should Patients be Discharged from the ER?

The job of the emergency room staff is to rule out any life-threatening conditions and refer the patient to proper follow-up care. Sometimes, making an exact diagnosis is impossible—it’s understandable under the conditions—but doctors and nurses must do their best to make sure the patient is ready to leave. If you are not ready to be released, you should be admitted to the hospital.

Patients should be discharged when:

  • They are not in immediate, life-threatening danger
  • They do not have a condition that may progress to a serious illness
  • They are able to carry out discharge instructions
  • They have the ability to continue treatment at home
  • They understand the follow-up appointments that must be scheduled

The attending physician should understand why the patient was brought to the ER, what it will take to safely release him or her, and how to help the patient receive the additional care required.

Why Would You be Discharged too Soon?

There are several reasons why a doctor might release a patient too soon:

  • Doctor fails to order the right tests
  • Doctor ignores signs and symptoms
  • Doctor refuses to take symptoms seriously
  • Patient does not have insurance
  • Exams and tests were taken incorrectly
  • Test results were not read properly
  • Patient’s vital signs were read incorrectly

There could be multiple emergency room mistakes made by multiple parties. In many instances of early ER discharge, the patient will return to the emergency department at a later time in a more serious condition, a circumstance that could have otherwise been avoided. To show that the doctor or other healthcare practitioner was negligent, you must prove that the negligence caused foreseeable harm.

Getting help from experienced malpractice attorneys in Baltimore and Washington D.C.

No one expects to be the victim of a medical mistake, but when it happens, you want serious advocates on your side. At the law firm of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A., we only take on medical malpractice claims. We are passionate about this area of law—and dedicated to getting our clients results. For more information, please call us at 410-234-1000 or complete a contact form.