Let’s face it, hospitals are not any fun. And a lot of seniors spend more time in hospitals than they would like. But do you have the right to say enough is enough and check yourself out?
My mother in law, Pat checked herself out of the hospital.
She was frustrated because it was the weekend and nobody seemed to be doing anything.
“There is no communication in these places she told me! I think they are just keeping me here to run up my bill”
She got dressed went to the nurse’s station, told them to take out her IV properly or she would just pull it out. Then she got into her car and called us. This was done long before dementia set in. She was aware of what she was doing and did not take no for an answer.
A Different Experience
A friend *Carol had a bit different experience. When she announced that she was leaving she was warned that she would be responsible for all of the medical bills if she left against doctor’s orders.
And another friend, *Sharon was warned that if her husband did not take the medicine ordered by his doctor she would be reported to adult protective services for abuse. Sharon and her husband had always opted for holistic treatments. Her husband has dementia now and this nurse who made a home visit was upset when she found out that Sharon has decided to try a less conventional form of treatment instead of the one the doctor prescribed.
So What Rights Do Senior Have?
Well first, let’s tackle the issue of your bills. A survey from the University of Chicago Medicine discovered 453 patients who had left against medical advice, not a single patient was denied insurance coverage for their care due to their discharge decision. It is simply not true. But many doctors, patients, and other health care providers continue to spread this misinformation.
You have the right to refuse treatment if you are of sound mind, you are not in an altered state and you do not pose a threat to yourself or to others.
So Why Do You Want to Leave?
I know it’s not a comfortable place to be. But studies show the #1 reason people leave the hospital early is a financial strain. If this is a concern, talk to the billing department first to determine if there are avenues for reducing the amount owed. you may be surprised at just how much wiggle room the hospitals have.
Not happy with the way you or a loved one is being treated?
Before heading out the door, file an official report with the hospital administration. There is a good chance they will work with you to resolve the issue. Care advocates like a Social worker or an ombudsman may also be able to step in to help.
What About Sharon? Can She Be Reported for Abusing Her Husband?
This is where it gets a bit trickier. No doubt, *Sharon is just looking out for the best interest of her husband. As such she is making decisions that she feels are in his best interest. But does she have this right? It may depend on what documents Sharon and her husband had in place before he was diagnosed with dementia?
This is one reason it is important to sit down with an elder law attorney before there is a crisis. Make sure that you have all of the documents in place to ensure your wishes are carried out.
The Hilbun Law Firm offers weekly workshops to help answer some of the questions you may have. There is no charge to attend and there is no pressure. Simply good information shared with our community.