People who check themselves out of the hospital before a doctor has cleared them to leave are at risk for poor follow-up care, hospital readmission, and higher medical expenses in the long run. Researchers have now found that patients' race and gender may play roles in whether they discharge themselves prematurely.
In a new study, African-Americans were 35 percent more likely than whites to check themselves out of a hospital against medical advice; Hispanics, by contrast, were 10 percent less likely than whites to make an ill-advised departure. Women appear only half as likely to leave as men, according to the report in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Lead author Said Ibrahim of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and his colleagues collected data on more than 3 million hospital discharges; 43,678 were against medical advice.