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What Happens If You Leave a Hospital Before Discharge?

Leave Hospital Before Discharge

You cannot be kept in the hospital against your will. The hospital can be liable for “false imprisonment” if hospital staff and officials attempt to prevent you from leaving before hospital discharge.

However, it would be best to discuss your condition and reasons for wanting to leave before discharge with your doctor before leaving the hospital. If you decide to leave the hospital without your physician’s approval, the hospital cannot keep you against your will.

The exception is mental health patients for whom leaving the hospital before discharge may place them or other persons at risk of harm.

If you are not satisfied with the hospital, talk to your physician, and request to be transferred to another hospital.

If you try to leave the hospital on your own, the nurse in charge and the hospital administrator will urge you to stay. The hospital staff must attempt to make you follow medical advice, but if you insist on leaving, they might ask you to sign an against-medical advice form (AMA form).

The AMA form states that you are leaving the hospital against your doctor’s advice and that you release the hospital from any liability for damage caused by leaving the hospital before discharge.

You don’t have to sign this form, though. When leaving the hospital before discharge, you should write a letter explaining your reasons for leaving the hospital. You should give one copy of this letter to the hospital administrator, and keep one copy.