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Number of Hospital Patients Leaving Early Against Medical Advice Up 40 Percent

By HERWriter Guide
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

There’s not usually an outcry upon being told one is well enough to go home from the hospital. Hospitals are generally loud, unsanitary places where a good night’s sleep is a mere hope, a quality roommate is a crap shoot and being woken up over and over to have vitals taken is enough to drive anyone to the brink of exhaustion.

For these and other reasons, the number of patients leaving against medical advice (AMA) has risen by 40 percent in the last dozen years. Those other reasons include not having medical insurance that pays for the hospital stay, not having sick leave from work, and not having alternative care for children or elderly relatives at home, or the money to pay for it. In short, it’s simply too expensive (in many ways) to stay in hospital until doctors advise it’s safe to leave.

Problems can arise from leaving early. For some, it means that their insurance company can refuse to pay for any part of the stay. Doctors may refuse to continue to treat a patient in an outpatient capacity for fear of being sued if the patient suffers a setback (or worse) from leaving the hospital early. And that leaves the ultimate penalty – leaving early can open a person up to illnesses returning, or left half-treated and the chance that it could be serious or even fatal.

For some patients, leaving early is a smart move. They are educated about why they were there in the first place and do not wish to partake in an endless battery of testing that may be unnecessary but done so that the hospital and its staff are covered legally. Others are rightfully fearful about infections like MRSA, urinary tract infections, C.Diff or VRE. These infections are not uncommon and can impact a person for years, or kill them.

Noisy roommates with loud families are also tough to deal with. Staying the night with a loved one in her hospital room is a nice thing to do on paper, but not when the visitor snores his way through the night, brings a stinking late night meal into the room or talks endlessly on a cell phone (be aware that as a patient you have the right to ask someone to leave if they interfere with your rest/recovery).

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.