Ethical Issues: “The Patient Just Wants to Go Home”
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Not infrequently in the busy practice of medicine we come across patients who, regardless of the severity of illness or need for acute care, demand to go home from the hospital against our advice. At these times the physician is conflicted by a desire to respect the patient's wishes while at the same time recognizing their obligation to do what is in the best interest of the patient medically. Fear of possible professional or legal retribution may also loom large if the family is not in agreement, or if there is some question as to the patient's decision-making capacity, in which case we may be held accountable for their safety.