View Full Version : teen leaving hospital against medical advice?

07-23-2012, 03:34 AM
Is that possible or would they want some proof from the parents/official guardians?

Basically the situation is this: a sixteen-year-old girl is in a hospital after a head trauma. She needs to leave. Her mother (only relative) is halfway across the globe working on a secret scientific project.
It's not like she's on her deathbed, but the hospital isn't finished treating her yet.

Can she just go out if she wants to and insists on it? I know an adult person can discharge themselves by signing a special waver, and a kid can't do that, but what about young adults? Would she be able to go if some adult (friend of family, whatever) showed up and agreed to take responsibility?

Thanks in advance!

Kitty Pryde
07-23-2012, 03:37 AM
I think the best way for a fictional character would be to sneak out!

Allen R. Brady
07-23-2012, 03:39 AM
Agreed. Especially a teenager.

07-23-2012, 04:12 AM
Yeah, a fictional character (or a really wild real life person) would sneak out. Otherwise, without cosent from the parent the kid stays put (I don't know if there are any states where a 16-year-old would be considered a legal adult). In fact, it's possible the hospital could get social services involved if the parent isn't available, or the doctors think it's in the child's best interest to keep her. But you'd run into all kinds of legalese if you stay 'real life' so I'd just have her sneak out, save all the hassles.

07-23-2012, 04:15 AM
She can't sign herself out because she's not considered a mentally competent adult. She could most likely simply walk out while pretending to just walk the halls, you know, to prevent blood clots.

Her legal guardian could sign her out but not just anybody because she's a minor.

07-23-2012, 04:16 AM
Unless you've been tagged with a medical or tracking device--or are on 1-to-1 supervision for some reason--it isn't difficult to sneak out of a hospital ward or emergency room.

07-23-2012, 04:52 AM
1...if only parent is half way around the globe, who signed her in?

2...If she was brought in because of an accident, the hospital will want information on how to notify parent or guardian. If she is uncooperative, they are going to call child protective services and let them deal with the young lady. By law, the hospital only has to give minimum care.

When my kids gods parents and I swapped watching each other kids for a weekend or week, we always signed a consent form giving each other the legal right to make minimum medical decisions on behalf of each other in case of an emergency. This is pretty standard for anyone under 18.

If the character in question is not cooperating with the doctors and nurses, I would say her best bet is just to walk out. The hospital will notify the police though and let them deal with her. The hospital does not like anyone walking out without signing the release papers and once they accepted her for treatment, they will be wanting someone in authority to accept the girl. Parent, guardian, or child protective services, it don't matter to them. Its a legal issue, to protect themselves...

07-23-2012, 10:55 AM
And if she's planning on sneaking out, she shouldn't appear interested in leaving. Okay, maybe she asks once, but if the staff describes conditions for leaving that she can't/won't follow, she should just shut up and appear to be going along with things. Making a big "I don't wanna be here and I'm blowing this popsicle stand" fuss will only result in being watched.
She should try to keep her clothes on. If they want her to put a hospital gown on for tests or procedures, she should ask to put them back on (plead extreme shyness and modesty, or wanting to feel 'normal', if needed. Don't say she's cold or they'll just bring her a blanket.)
Then, scope out the place, look for something that isn't immediately visible: washroom, drink machine, magazine. Suggest that she needs the washroom, or could she take a little walk to get a drink?
Pick up her purse, (she may have to abandon a jacket or coat) casually saunter out of line-of-sight and go!

07-23-2012, 11:35 AM
In the UK at least, if she's physically fit enough to even consider leaving (and the weather's decent), she'd be being encouraged to go outside and get some fresh air and a little walk.

It would be trivially easy to simply walk off at that point, in our local hospitals - you'd be mingling with the visitors the moment you got outside.

07-23-2012, 03:57 PM

Actually, she already sneaked out once right on the first page to go visit a patient in an adjacent building. Causing a bit of a fuss because she fainted there.

She's been there for about two weeks already, it's not emergency room, so she's wearing a hospital gown. But you are right--I'll just have her sneak out again (she knows how to get a ride). The police looking for her is actually good for the plot.

Becky Black
07-23-2012, 04:27 PM
Sounds good. And I like the writing advice "never duck trouble". Not being allowed to sign out herself is an obstacle she has to overcome, and readers love to read that. If it's easy it's no fun.

07-29-2012, 03:38 AM
Thanks for the replies!