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The risks of leaving AMA

June 2012

Published in the June 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

A NEW STUDY FROM RESEARCHERS at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center found that patients who leave the hospital against medical advice are twice as likely to die within 30 days. According to the study, 1.3% of AMA patients died within a month, compared to 0.7% of patients who remained in the hospital to planned discharge.

While the study found that patients who leave AMA had shorter lengths of stay than patients with planned discharges (3.37 days vs. 4.16), data showed those patients have higher rates of 30-day readmissions as well. The study also found that patients leaving the hospital AMA were more prone to be substance abusers, have Medicaid coverage or suffer from psychiatric problems.

The results were published online by the American Journal of Medicine. After examining the centers 2002-08 discharge data, researchers found that 2.4% of patients were discharged against advice. Every year, the authors wrote, 500,000 patients in U.S. hospitals leave AMA.