Dr. FAQ: Who Pays When Patients Leave Against Medical Advice?

There are ways in which patients who leave the hospital against medical advice wind up paying for that decision. Being saddled with the full cost of their hospital stay, however, is not one of them.

Insurance companies know this. Patients who walk out may know this. But many physicians, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, do not.

A survey of general internal medicine doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine found that two-thirds of residents and almost half of attending physicians believe that when a patient leaves the hospital against medical advice, insurance companies will not pay for the patient’s hospitalization, leaving the patient liable for the full hospital bill.

“We have all heard this, and many physicians may have passed it on to their students, even to patients threatening to leave on their own,” said study author Vineet Arora, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. “But a closer look revealed this to be a myth, a medical urban legend, albeit a pervasive one.”

In this video, Arora discusses this myth, how she and her colleagues tracked it down and how rumors like this persist in a hospital environment.

Video produced by Matt Wood

%d bloggers like this: