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Early discharge from the hospital is a complex matter

Being admitted into the hospital means that you have something going on that's serious enough to require intensive treatment or monitoring. Even if you are admitted to have a baby, you and the newborn still need to be monitored to ensure nothing is going wrong. Unfortunately, hospitals will sometimes discharge patients before they are ready to go home.

The issue with premature discharge from the hospital is that patients are at risk of having complications when they get home. They might have to be readmitted, which costs an average of $15 to 20 billion per year. Not only could some of these costs be avoided by ensuring patients are ready to go home at discharge, but the quality of life of the patients could also be improved.

Insurers versus practitioners

In some cases, the decision to discharge a patient comes from the insurer and not the practitioners. Some insurance companies have strict guidelines for how long patients can remain in the hospital. There is sometimes leeway for issues that creep up, but practitioners are expected to determine where the line may fall.

It is imperative that everyone involved in a patient's care, including the practitioners and insurers, take the time to ensure the patient can function at home before they are released. The amount of help a person has at home might play a part in this. For example, if you can't get out of bed, you won't be able to function in your home if you live alone.

Risk factors for readmission

There are many factors that can increase a person's chance of being readmitted into the hospital. Some of the easiest to see are vital signs. If you have one vital sign that isn't stable, you face a risk of death or readmission that is 36 percent higher than what it is for a person who is stable. Your risk of being readmitted quadruples if three vital signs are unstable.

An alternative option

One option for some patients is being transferred to a rehabilitation center or a short-term recovery facility. These enable you to continue your healing process without having to worry about how you will do it at home. Since these facilities can monitor you for potential problems, you might benefit greatly from finding out if this is an option.

Some patients who are discharged from the hospital too early may have a claim for medical malpractice if they suffer harm. These cases might be based on negligence or the medical team not meeting the standard of care.

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