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Doctor Negligence

Doctor and Hospital Negligence Associated with Early Patient Discharge

Doctor negligence in hospitals is more common than is perceived. Early discharge by the hospital because of the doctor’s recommendation can lead to injury if such discharge has been done prematurely. Most of the early discharge negligence instances relate to infants, who are susceptible to various medical conditions. The child’s immunity may have been compromised by vaccination, exposure to a disease in the maternal ward etc. Newborns are also most susceptible to life threatening conditions in the first 48 hours following birth.

When a hospital is over full, as is often the case with state hospitals, the doctor in charge of the ward may be eager to make room for other patients. In this instance, the doctor may decide to discharge a mother and her child even on the same day as the delivery or within 24 hours of such. Instead, the doctor should wait and the team should observe the wellbeing of mother and child.

Although 48 hours are the shortest period recommended, longer stay is often more beneficial to the mother to allow for enough time to identify possible complications from the delivery, which may have gone unnoticed previously. The doctor and hospital can be held responsible for negligence should the mother and child be discharged prematurely and one of them suffers injury because they have not been under medical care and monitoring.

Discharge should only be done if the infant’s vital signs have been stable for a period of minimum twelve consecutive hours and if the infant has had a minimum of two feedings that have been proven to be successful. In addition, the child must have passed at least one stool and urinated, and the medical staff must have checked for hearing and sight problems, as well as any signs of injury. The medical team should also keep the mother’s circumstances in mind to ensure that the child will receive feeding and proper care before deciding to discharge the mother and child early.

Not all early discharges lead to injury and if your infant was discharged early without any damages suffered, there is no doctor or hospital negligence. If the correct procedures, such as the ones above, have been followed and the child was properly examined for any injuries, the discharge is not done in negligence.

Adult patients can also suffer as the result of early discharge after an invasive medical treatment. If the medical team does not conduct a post-surgical assessment and monitors the patient for possible infections before discharging the patient, and damages are suffered as the result, then there is cause for seeking negligence compensation.

An example is where a patient receives a pacemaker, but the medical staff does not complete the full range of required tests. After failing to do so, the patient is discharged, but the pacemaker does not function properly within a few hours of leaving the hospital and as a result thereof, the patient dies.

In many instances the patients return to hospital’s emergency room. Readmission of the patient can be done correctly, but if the injury sustained because of the early discharge has already caused secondary injuries, the hospital or doctor responsible can be held accountable for negligence.

If you have suffered because of early discharge or your infant has been injured because of such, obtain immediate professional legal assistance in determining the extent of the negligence and whether or not it is a hospital or doctor negligence issue.


Note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and should not be seen as an attempt to provide legal advice. We strongly recommend that you contact us at Adele van der Walt Incorporated for professional legal advice.

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