Case Review Explores Implications of Discharging Intoxicated Patients

September 11, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Healthcare risk managers may be interested in an August 25, 2013, Business Insurance article that discusses the implications of a recent case in which the New York State Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's dismissal of a 2007 lawsuit that had accused a New York health system of medical malpractice and negligence for failing to prevent a patient from leaving the hospital while he was still intoxicated. After leaving the hospital, the patient subsequently wandered onto a highway and was hit by a car, rendering him paralyzed. Although the patient contended that the hospital should have prevented him from leaving in an intoxicated state, the court rejected his appeal, citing the state's Mental Hygiene Law, which neither permits nor requires healthcare providers to forcibly detain patients admitted voluntarily for treatment unless they pose a threat to themselves or others or are unable to make informed decisions about their treatment.

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