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Legalease, Lawyer
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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My wifes aunt is in a hospital in CA. She would like her aunt

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My wife's aunt is in a hospital in CA. She would like her aunt to transfer to a better hospital as she and the aunt's brother feel like the care is subpar at this hospital. She was admitted and they do not have a proper diagnosis. The hospital refuses to release her. What rights does she have to transfer hospitals? She is not in a good state and can barely talk. She was originally admitted to a psych. ward but then transferred to an ER and finally to this hospital because of fear of meningitis etc. Does she have the right to transfer to a different hospital?? Her husband would like her to transfer as well. What does she need to do?

Hello there -


If your aunt did not sign a health care proxy document granting permission to her husband to make medical decisions for her in the event that she is unable to do so, then this hospital is probably using that as an excuse not to transfer her to another facility. In the absence of a signed health care proxy from the patient, then the hospital will generally defer to the wishes of the next of kin (the husband) unless there is some significant medical issue that will do more harm in the transfer process and the hospital feels that it is unsafe to make the transfer. Under these circumstances your aunt is most likely not competent to sign a health care proxy (if there isn't one already signed) and your uncle/her husband should be the person to make a direct request of the doctors to transfer her to the other facility. If they still refuse, then your uncle should ask the hospital administration for the reasons for the refusal to be put into writing (his request for a transfer or the reason why should be in writing and submitted to the hospital administration)-- then if they still refuse the transfer, whether he gets the refusal and reasons in writing or not, he should visit a local health care law attorney in your city or town in order to get some assistance to facilitate these matters. The attorney can make a telephone call or write a letter to the hospital and determine whether or not their reasons for refusing the transfer are valid under the law and if not, the attorney can file a complaint in district court for the hospital to release custody to another facility -- unless there is immediate danger of death, a court will not require her to stay in the current facility against the wishes of her husband. My feeling here is that perhaps the husband is not being forceful enough with them in expressing his wishes or following appropriate procedures to make a request in writing (procedures that the hospital probably has not made him aware of) and the hospital is taking advantage of the fact that he is very worried and everyone except her husband has made a strong request for the transfer to take place.




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