By Brett Williams. Last updated 3rd August 2021. When you go to the hospital, it is the hospital’s duty to care for you to a reasonable standard, and this includes deciding when it would be appropriate to discharge you from the hospital. If you have been discharged prematurely and it has caused you to experience avoidable suffering, then you may be able to make a claim for a wrongful discharge from a hospital. In this guide, we explore what hospitals should do before discharging you, how to make a claim for a premature discharge from hospital, and how we could help provide you with a solicitor without you having to pay legal fees until your claim is settled. You can call us at any time to clarify any point within this guide on 0800 073 8801. However, we feel the information below could be of real benefit to claimants who find themselves in this position, so we would encourage you to read the guide before you get in touch with us.
Select A Section
- A Guide On Claiming As A Hospital Patient Discharged Prematurely
- What Is An Early Hospital Discharge?
- What Are Minimal And Complex Hospital Discharges?
- Why May A Patient Have An Early Discharge?
- Dangerous Hospital Discharges Vs Premature Hospital Discharges
- Showing You Were Harmed By Being Discharged Too Early
- How To Prevent Harmful Early Hospital Discharges
- Common Reasons For Patients To Be Discharged Prematurely From Hospital
- Instances Of Premature Hospital Discharge In 2017/ 2018
- Calculating Compensation If Harmed When Discharged Prematurely – Updated August 2021
- Special Damages If Harmed By An Early Hospital Discharge
- No Win No Fee Claims For A Premature Discharge From Hospital
- How Our Team Could Help Those Discharged Prematurely From Hospital
- Start Your Premature Discharge Compensation Claim
- Essential References
It may be assumed when a patient is in hospital, that the medical staff would be capable of deciding when it would be safe and appropriate to discharge them. But what if a mistake is made and a patient is discharged early, due to misdiagnosis, failure to perform the correct tests, or failure to correctly assess the medical condition of the patient. If standards of care have fallen below what could be deemed acceptable, and you have been discharged too early, causing you to suffer harm that may or may not have required you to return to the hospital, then you could be eligible to claim compensation for the costs associated with the harm you’ve suffered, as well as the suffering you’ve had to bear. Here at Accident Claims UK, we could help if you feel that you have endured avoidable suffering because of an early discharge. In the sections below, you’ll find information on the reasons you may have been discharged too early along with the actions you could take if you have.
Premature hospital discharge of patients could be considered a growing problem in the UK. According to the HSIC (Health and Social Information Centre), in 2013, there were more than a million emergency re-admissions to hospital in England. (although some of these may not have been because the patient was discharged prematurely) If, however, you are discharged from hospital before you are medically stable, or before certain appropriate tests are carried out, it could mean that your condition gets worse instead of better. If a hospital has been negligent in their duty of care towards you and you suffered harm because of an early discharge, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
Different hospitals may have different procedures for discharging patients, but in order to be fully informed about discharges, we should explain what the NHS means by a complex hospital discharge and what is meant by a minimal discharge. A discharge assessment should be performed before you are discharged, which you should be involved in. It should take into account whether you would need to be cared for at home, and what level of care may be required.
Minimal Discharges – If it has been assessed that you would not need further care at home, or very little care, then a minimal discharge may be appropriate
Complex Discharges – If it has been assessed that you would need specialised care after you leave the hospital, a plan should be put in place before you are discharged, which should take into account:
- What support/treatment you need upon discharge
- Who will provide this (you should be given contact details)
- How often and when this will be provided
- How it would be reviewed and monitored
- Contact details for the person coordinating the plan, emergency contact details if things aren’t working as they should
- Charges applicable to the care
Some hospitals in the UK may be at risk of overcrowding, and if this has led to a rush to get new patients treated, it could mean that staff are under pressure to get other patients out. While you may assume the answer to the question ‘Can you sue a hospital for early discharge because they were overcrowded?’ would be no, the opposite could be true. Some studies have raised the issue of overcrowding as being caused by poor planning in some cases, which means that early discharge could be preventable. If you’re wondering whether you could make a compensation claim for harm you have suffered from being discharged prematurely, and you could prove any of the following, you may have a case for compensation.
The defendant – for example, the doctor or facility did not:
- Ensure you were medically stable
- Conduct the appropriate tests prior to discharge
- Schedule appropriate follow up appointments
- Properly diagnose/treat the issue
If this has happened to you and you believe you have been discharged too early, and this has caused you harm, then we could help you begin a claim for premature discharge compensation.
A premature hospital discharge is not the same as a dangerous discharge. However, being discharged prematurely could result in a dangerous discharge. A dangerous discharge is deemed to be one where the required steps are not taken before they are made to leave, such as medical tests or examinations.
Can You Be Discharged From The Hospital At Night?
One fear that some patients may have is being discharged prematurely at night, before such time as provisions were put in place to arrange care at home, or where there were no provisions for safe transport home at night. If you have experienced a night time discharge before these measures were put in place and have suffered harm because of this, you may be able to claim for an unsafe discharge.
Proving medical negligence, which is what a premature discharge could be, could be tricky. The burden of proof would be upon you to show that your additional suffering/pain was caused directly because you were discharged prematurely. This is the case whether you have been admitted to hospital again or not.
Hospitals, whether NHS or private should have robust procedures in place to ensure that patients in their care are well enough to be discharged. However, with the shortage of hospital beds appearing in the media often, and the pressure on the NHS to treat a growing number of patients with a shrinking budget, decisions could be made to discharge a patient that may be unsafe. This could be classed as clinical negligence, but in some cases, it may not be – it would depend on the specifics of your case. It would need to be considered that if another doctor with a similar level of skill had treated you, would they have discharged you at the time you were discharged.
Another consideration would be whether the standard of care you received was acceptable. Medical malpractice could be considered if:
- It was not assessed that you were medically stable for discharge
- Appropriate tests were not carried out
- There was a failure to properly diagnose or treat your medical condition
- There was a failure to make appropriate follow-up appointments
If you would like some assistance with proving you were discharged prematurely, one of our personal injury solicitors could help you.
For you, as a patient, the fear of an early discharge from hospital may be pressing, and you may wonder can you refuse to be discharged from hospital in the UK, and can a hospital force you to discharge. While a legal right to refuse discharge from hospital has not yet been granted by the courts, there are actions that you could take to attempt to prevent your premature discharge, and these could include:
- Asking for your discharge rights
- Asking to speak to the medic that has treated you in order to discuss your reservations surrounding your discharge and the reasons the doctor feels you should be discharged
- Speaking out – If you are in pain, or you do not think you would be able care for yourself at home then talk to the staff to see what could be done
There could be many reasons for patients to be discharged prematurely. However, the most common cases of unsafe discharge could be deemed to be those that involve babies.
When a baby is born, it may be safest for the baby to be within a hospital setting for 48 hours at a minimum. This is so that any symptoms of the extensive list of problems that could happen in the first hours after birth could be noticed and early diagnosis and treatment could be given. However, this 48 hours limit is only a guideline for the minimum time a healthy infant should stay in hospital after they are born. If there have been any complications experienced by the baby, then they should stay for longer. Key factors to preventing an unsafe discharge from hospital by assessing the right time to discharge a baby from hospital could include:
- 2 successful feedings have been completed, at least
- The baby should have spontaneously passed at least one stool
- The baby should have undergone a hearing screening
- The baby should have urinated
- The social, environmental and family risk factors should have been assessed
- The baby must have shown normal, stable vital signs for 12 hours at a minimum
If your child has suffered harm due to a premature baby discharge from hospital, and you’d like to know whether you could make a claim for compensation, simply call our advisors, and we will do all that we can to help you.
Although we have focussed on infants above, it could be possible for adults to be discharged from hospital too soon. Reasons for both adults and children being discharged prematurely could include:
- Mistakes in the medical report
- Mistakes in assessing the medical report
- Inaccuracies in medication
- Inaccuracies in treatment
- Failure to carry out the correct tests
- And more…
If you have experienced a negligent discharge from hospital and you believe you have suffered harm because of it, then please do get in touch with us here at Accident Claims UK. We could offer a free assessment of your case.
According to the media, there were 104 patients who received payouts from the NHS in 2017/18 because of premature discharges from hospital. On average, it was reported that nearly £200,000 was paid out to each victim, which meant the NHS, in total, paid out approximately £20 million in compensation for that year.
Further to this, it was revealed that £47 million has been paid out by the health service during the past 5 years to over 400 people who were readmitted to hospital because they required further treatment.
Figures were said to show that 71 thousand patients re-entered the hospital within 24 hours of being discharged, and 484,609 patients were taken to A&E for treatment within just 4 weeks of having been discharged.
Because so many different issues could be caused by a negligent discharge from hospital, it may be difficult for a personal injury claims calculator to accurately predict an approximate amount for the harm you’ve suffered because you were sent home from hospital early. What we have done here, to illustrate how much could be payable for certain injuries, is take reference from the Judicial College Guidelines. The table below lists some injuries, as well as their guideline compensation brackets. Obviously, we cannot include every type of injury within the table below, so if the harm you’ve suffered isn’t listed here, simply call us and we would give you the information over the phone.
|Kidney injuries||up to £60,050||Risk of future UTI or losses of kidney function.|
|Bowel injuries||Up to £140,870||Loss of function and requirement of colostomy|
|Bladder injuries||£60,050 to £75,010||Control impaired with pain and some incontinence|
|Hernia||£13,970 to £22,680||Limitation on work, sport, physical activities after repair|
|Loss of fertility (female)||£107,810 to £158,970||Via injury or disease, with pain anxiety and depression|
|Loss of fertility (female)||£31,950 to £95,850||Resulting from the failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy|
|Loss of fertility (male)||£40,370 to £73,580||Likely to be a permanent loss in cases where claimants already have children|
If you were harmed by being discharged prematurely, as well as the damages you’d expect to receive for the harm you have suffered, you could also claim for financial losses or costs that you’ve suffered because of being discharged too early. Premature discharge from hospital claimants could claim for special damages that could include:
Care costs – If you’ve required help at home because of the harm you’ve suffered because of an early discharge from hospital, then this could be included as part of your claim.
Medical costs – Did you have to pay for further treatment, prescription costs or counselling as a result of the harm you suffered by being discharged prematurely? These could also be claimed for as special damages.
Travel costs – If you needed to pay for transport directly because of the harm you’ve suffered from an early discharge, then you could claim these costs also. These could include costs from travel to work if you’ve been unable to drive and needed to pay for transport, and could also include travel to medical appointments, etc.
Loss of earnings – If you had to take time off work to recover from the harm you’ve suffered from a premature discharge from hospital, then your wages might be lower than usual. This could be claimed for as special damages too.
If you’ve incurred any other expenses directly relating to an unsafe discharge from hospital, then you could call us to find out whether these could be included in your claim.
If you have been discharged prematurely and this has led to an incomplete recovery from an illness, further symptoms or other kinds of harm, then we believe you should not have to pay for legal assistance upfront. This is why we work with solicitors that take on claims under conditional fee agreements, or no win no fee agreements, as they could also be called. When a no win no fee solicitor takes on a claim, they would issue the claimant with a document that lays out how much (in a percentage form) they would expect to be paid as a success fee from the total compensation settlement. This amount can’t – due to a government cap – be more than 25%. The rest of the compensation would be for your benefit. Should you have a valid claim for early discharge but the solicitor didn’t get you compensation, you would not have to settle this success fee. There are various benefits that could be attributed to claiming in this manner. Some claimants might be relieved that they would not have to find funds upfront to pay a lawyer, while some may feel that this method of claiming lowers the financial risk. Whatever the reason you’d prefer to claim with a no win no fee solicitor, Accident Claims UK would be delighted to connect you with one of our solicitors that we feel could handle your premature discharge claim.
If you’re wondering how Accident Claims UK could help you if you were discharged prematurely and suffered some sort of harm as a result, then you might be happy to know that any advice we give you is free of charge and free of any obligation to use our services. We pride ourselves on offering guidance and support to claimants from all walks of life and in all sorts of situations without charge. We believe anyone who has been the victim of negligence by someone else and has suffered because of it should be able to have their situation assessed to find out whether they could be able to make a personal injury claim for compensation. When you get in contact with Accident Claims UK, a friendly, knowledgeable advisor would take some details from you about your premature discharge, and they’d use these details to asses whether you could be eligible for unsafe discharge compensation. If the advisor feels that you could benefit from legal assistance, they could offer to provide you with a personal injury lawyer, if you’d like one. As we mentioned, you are under no obligation to use our services, but we believe that the solicitors we work with could help you get the compensation you deserve for your premature discharge from hospital.
Do you feel you are in a position to begin a claim and would like us to provide you with a personal injury solicitor to help you, or do you have a few questions about making a claim for being discharged prematurely? Either way, we can be contacted in a variety of ways. If you prefer to talk to one of our advisors, you could either call us on 0800 073 8801 or fill out the contact form and we’ll call you. Otherwise, you could use our live chat on the site, or email email@example.com. However you prefer to contact us, you’ll benefit from a great level of service from our friendly, knowledgeable team.
Wrongful discharge from a hospital – FAQs
Can you sue for unsafe discharge?
In the same way as other medical negligence claims, wrongful discharge from a hospital claims need to show that a) the doctor was negligent when discharging you and b) you were made ill or your condition worsened as a result. If these criteria are true, you could sue for any suffering caused by the early discharge.
How do I complain about hospital discharge?
If you don’t agree with the way that your discharge is being handled (or was handled) you should speak with hospital staff informally first. Alternatively, you could speak to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) within the hospital. If that doesn’t resolve your concerns, you would need to follow the formal NHS complaints procedure.
How long do I have to make wrongful discharge from a hospital claims?
Medical negligence claims have a 3-year time limit. In this type of claim, that limitation period would probably begin from the date you were discharged. However, if you find out that you have suffered due to early discharge at a later date, the 3-years could start from your date of knowledge.
What compensation can I claim following an unsafe discharge from hospital?
As with other types of claims, wrongful discharge from a hospital claims will be based on any harm that was caused. Therefore, you could claim for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that resulted directly from your release from the hospital. Additionally, you may be able to seek damages for any financial costs that you accrue as well.
Being Discharged – NHS– Here you will find information on being discharged from the NHS.
PALS – This is a patient liaison service – you can usually find discharge information for your specific hospital through them.
NHS complaints – Here you can find information on making a complaint to the NHS.
Misdiagnosis – Have you been discharged too early because of a misdiagnosis? This page may help.
General Guidance On Medical Negligence – Here you can find our guide on negligence in a medical setting.
Fatal Medical Negligence Claims – Here you can find some information on claiming on behalf of a loved one that has lost their life due to negligence.
Thanks for reading our wrongful discharge from a hospital guide.
Article By Jo.