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The expert explains when the patient can decide to discharge from the hospital and when it is necessary to call a medical consultation. Polish law describes three situations when you discharge from a hospital.

Wondering if you haven't been in the hospital too long? Or maybe someone from your family was discharged despite the ongoing disease? Find out when the doctor can make decisions about going home.

When is the legal discharge of a patient from the hospital?

Pursuant to Art. 29 of the Act on medical activity, discharge from a hospital or other enterprise of a medical entity performing medical activities such as round-the-clock and stationary he alth services is performed in the following situations:

  • when the patient's he alth condition does not require further inpatient he alth services (both inpatient and non-hospital);
  • at the request of the patient or his legal representative;
  • when the patient grossly violates the order or the course of the process of providing he alth services, and there is no fear that the refusal or discontinuation of he alth services may cause a direct threat to his life or he alth, or the life or he alth of other people.

Who decides about discharge from hospital?

The Act does not specify who makes the decision regarding the discharge of the patient. This competence was generally conferred on a physician, pursuant to § 22 of the Regulation of the Minister of He alth of December 21, 2010 on the types and scope of medical documentation and the method of its processing (issued in connection with the delegation of Article 30 of the Act on Patients' Rights).

Discharge from the hospital on your own request

Discharge takes place when the patient or his representative sends a statutory request for discharge. A patient requesting a discharge should be absolutely informed by a doctor about the possible consequences of discontinuing further he althcare services. Such a patient then submits a written statement on discharge at his own request, and in the absence of a written statement, the doctor makes an appropriate note in the medical documentation.

Who cannot leave the hospital on their own request?

If the patient has a statutory representative, i.e. is a minor or incapacitated, he cannot effectively demand his discharge personally. Such a solution is guided by the safety of the patient's he alth and life and the existence of the actual presumption that a person who, due to his age or mental state, requires legal care, is not able to reasonably make key decisions regarding further treatment.

The Act on medical activity does not provide for the possibility of refusing to discharge in a situation where the request for discharge is formulated by a patient for whom there are evident grounds for incapacitation, but the patient has not been incapacitated. Then it should be considered that he is a person capable of making independent decisions.

Discharge from hospital against the patient's will? Ask for a medical council!

If the patient or his legal representative report diagnostic or therapeutic doubts (also regarding the legitimacy of discharging the patient home after the end of hospital treatment), they may request (require) the doctor providing he althcare services to consult another doctor ( e.g. a competent specialist) or convened a medical council. Nevertheless, a physician has the right to refuse to call a medical consultation or consult another physician if he deems the request unfounded. Both the patient's request and the doctor's refusal must be recorded in the medical records.

These issues are defined in Art. 37 on the professions of a doctor and dentist (Journal of Laws of 2008, No. 136, item 857, as amended) and Art. 6 sec. 3-5 of the Act of November 6, 2008 on the rights of the patient and the Patient's Rights Ombudsman (Journal of Laws of 2009, No. 52, item 417, as amended).

Legal basis:

Act on medical activity (Journal of Laws of 2013, item 217)

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