Patients leaving the hospital A.M.A., or against medical advice

Did you or a family member or friend get so fed up you just wanted to get out of bed and leave the hospital?
Recently a New York Times article included this vignette from a medical student:
“By the time I rushed to his room, my patient had already ripped out his I.V., packed his knapsack and was making his way to the door, his hospital gown, on backward, flapping like a cape over the jeans he had hurriedly slipped on. He told me he felt fine now, after coming in feverish and sweating a few nights back, and despite his poorly controlled H.I.V. and the strong possibility that the lump in his neck was lymphoma. We had been waiting several days for the biopsy results, but now he had had enough. “I’ve got things to do,” he declared. “Call me when you know.”
“Just then the attending physician arrived and calmly approached the patient…..He said he understood the patient’s frustration, apologized for the delay and promised to call the doctors in the pathology department to see why the test results were taking so long. He asked where the patient was planning to go, why he felt it so important to leave and offered to connect him with social services that could help take care of things outside the hospital. He grabbed a napkin and drew a quick sketch explaining how his disease would likely progress and the many risks of leaving without treatment.”
To read this fascinating article, “ Teaching Doctors the Art of Negotiation” by Dhruv Khullar
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Note: This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.


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