HA4050D – Healthcare Law
Discussion 06.2: Premature Discharge?
Read the Discussion 06.2 Scenario. We will debate two related issues:
SCENARIO (BASED ON A REAL LOUISIANA CASE)
As your Pozgar textbook states, “The premature discharge of a patient is risky business” (p. 249). As the
text points out, improperly discharging patients is a very common basis for negligence suits against
Scenario (based on a real Louisiana case): A patient with chronic kidney failure required continual
dialysis treatment. As such, hemodialysis catheters, also called access grafts, were surgically inserted in
the patient’s arms. These access grafts eventually caused problems and needed to be removed by a
vascular surgeon. After the procedure, the patient was hospitalized and he suffered two incidents
where he bled copiously from a surgery site in his left arm. The bleeding was stopped with pressure
dressings, and the patient received a blood transfusion. The patient was hospitalized for four additional
days for observation. He had no other episodes of bleeding, he received his dialysis treatment fine, ate
well, and had good vital signs—therefore, the patient was dismissed from the hospital. The physician’s
discharge summary noted the patient had been instructed on how to apply pressure if his arm should
bleed and was told to call his physician if problems occurred.
Upon returning home, the patient had two bleeding incidents. Pressure was applied and the site was
wrapped with gauze. No one called the physician to report the two bleeding incidents. The next day,
the patient was left alone while his wife went to run some errands. When she returned home about 30
minutes later, she found her husband dead, lying in a pool of blood. The patient died from loss of blood
caused by hemorrhaging from the incision in his left arm. His wife filed a wrongful death suit against the
physician, claiming that he never should have been discharged from the hospital.
.Was the physician who dismissed the patient guilty of negligence?
.Even assuming the physician was negligent, recalling your reading from Chapter 8, are there any affirmative defenses he could raise in this case that might shield him from liability? If so, what are they, and what facts support them?
We will divide the class into two groups:
.Group 1: Students with last names starting with the letters A-M will represent the defendant physician and argue that the doctor was not negligent and/or he should prevail because of an affirmative defense he could raise at trial.
.Group 2: Students with last names starting with the letters N-Z will represent the plaintiff and argue that the physician was negligent and that there is no affirmative defense that should excuse the physician from liability.
Each group member is required to debate their position based upon facts and research. Fully explain your reasoning, using legal principles you have learned and applying them to the facts of this case. Opinions offered without evidence are not welcome in this debate. Defend your position by citing research, such as a page of the textbook or an outside source.