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Can hospital refuse to discharge a patient under any condition.

Worcester, MA |

she been in the hospital for a week now. do to an infection in her spin up to her brain that cause a large abscess. they recommended a 6 to 8 week antibiotic treatment. that has to be done in a hospital. so can they make her stay if she dont want to.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Medically, yes


  2. There are two issues. Is her infection a danger to other people. If so, in certain cases the state has the power to hold people. If her infection is only a risk to herself and if she is mentally competent, a court would eventually order the hospital to let her out, but that might a take a while. But it sounds like she might die if she refuses treatment.


  3. Well, first of all, why on earth would she want to be discharged under those circumstances? If she is mentally competent and able to express her desires and wishes, she should want to stay wherever she has the best chance of recovering from such a horrible infection. Second, I agree with the other attorneys that the hospital can refuse to discharge her in certain circumstances.

    Answers to questions on this web site are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Unless you and Troy W. Marsh, Jr. have signed a written contract, Troy W. Marsh, Jr. is not your attorney, and you are not his client. www.marshlaw1.com troy@marshlaw1.com


  4. A hospital is not a prison. People leave hospitals Against Medical Advice (AMA) every day; in fact, hospitals have a form they want the patient to sign documenting they have been advised to stay for medical treatment but are lealving anyway. (However, I agree with the first commentator, AMA is not an option in a public health threat case - under that scenariio, the public health authoriites would quarantine the infected person until the patient can be safely discharged.)

    All that being said, it sounds like the condition described here is so serious that it is hard to imagine someone would want to leave. The patient should stay in the hospital, or at the very least, see if he or she can get a transfer to another hospital that is more acceptable to the patient.

    DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. The information should not be construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any response given does not result in any further obligation to provide an additional response. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.


  5. Generally, one may walk out of a hospital at any time. Exceptions are: if you have a communicable disease and are thus a danger to others, you will be held; or, if you are on a 72 hour psych hold, you will be detained, forcibly if necessary. It doesn't sound like her infection is a danger to anybody but herself. If she refuses treatment for an infection of the scale that you describe, she will probably die if she leaves the hospital.

    I may be contacted at 212-553-9300.

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