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What are a nurse’s legal and ethical options for handling unacceptable discharge plans for a family member?


Dear Nancy,

My mother was discharged from the hospital. Because I work as a nurse, I know she was sent home with an unacceptable discharge plan. She has no insurance and is in the process of getting a permanent residence. She also is a new dialysis patient .and the discharge plan is for her to pay cash at a dialysis center. It is not affordable. Her nephrologist did not clear for discharge, the details of the plan were not discussed with the center and the case manager contacted a new nephrologist to follow her, but my mother’s current nephrologist was not informed. What are my legal and ethical options?


Dear Nancy replies:


Your mother’s discharge plan appears not to exist. Moreover, the fact that the nephrologist did not clear her for the discharge is troubling. Who did clear her for leaving the hospital? Why didn’t the case manager deal with this issue before your mother was discharged?

It is not clear from the details in your question whether your mother was discriminated against in some way, was dumped from the hospital, not the ED which is often where patient dumping occurs and there is no health insurance, or if some other issues were at play here.

You should get to the bottom of why this happened as soon as you can by consulting with a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who works with patients and their families and can specifically advise you about how to proceed. To help speed up the process, your mother can ask for a copy of her medical records while at the facility so the attorney can review them when you meet.

In addition, you might want to see what health insurance options are now available to your mother since the Affordable Care Act was passed. Your state also may have available insurance plans for the chronically ill, who have no means of support. Keep in mind, too, that your mother may be eligible for Social Security Disability if she worked, possibly Social Security Income if she is 65 years of age or older and meets specific financial limits, Medicare (if she worked or had a spouse who worked)
or Medicaid.

Ethically, this entire situation is full of unacceptable conduct. One thing the attorney may suggest is you report whomever he or she feels is culpable to the respective state regulatory board.

Regards, Nancy

By | 2014-12-08T00:00:00-05:00 December 8th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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