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New York Court Grants Hospital Mandatory Injunction To Enforce Discharge Of Patient


HLD, v. 30, n. 9 (September 2002)

New York Court Grants Hospital Mandatory Injunction To Enforce Discharge Of Patient

Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (Wyckoff) discharged patient Luis Rodriguez ten days after he was admitted, concluding that his medical condition was stable and no longer required hospital care. Rodriguez appealed the discharge to the Island Peer Review Organization (IPRO), which upheld the discharge decision, finding that inpatient services were "no longer medically necessary and that an appropriate discharge plan had been established." Because of his abusive and violent behavior in the past, the Visiting Nurses Association of Brooklyn refuses to provide home healthcare to Rodriguez, and he refused to live in the Adult Homes that Wyckoff recommended. Wyckoff filed a motion seeking to enforce its discharge of Rodriguez.

The New York Supreme Court granted the relief sought by Wyckoff and ordered Rodriguez to leave the hospital in accordance with the discharge notice. The court acknowledged that a mandatory injunction is an "uncommon" and "drastic remedy" but found "compelling circumstances" for granting such relief here. Although the court found no New York cases directly on point, it noted that other jurisdictions have addressed the issue of whether a mandatory injunction can be used to eject a patient who refuses to leave a hospital after being discharged. Quoting a federal district court's opinion, the court noted that "hospitals have a duty not to permit their facilities to be diverted to uses for which hospitals are not intended." In fact, the court said, "the very utility of a hospital is in jeopardy where a patient that no longer requires services refuses to leave thereby preventing other needy patients from space and inpatient care." According to the court, no other remedy in the instant action would sufficiently correct the underlying problem associated with Rodriguez's refusal to leave. Thus, the court concluded, "where a hospital complies with statutory and administrative guidelines governing the discharge of patients then a failure of the patient to comply may result in a mandatory injunction requiring such a patient to leave."

Here, Rodriquez received written notice of his discharge, which was based on numerous medical examinations. He was afforded a right to appeal the discharge and in fact did so. "In any event it is clear that defendant's continued presence in the Wyckoff hospital is an abuse which need not be tolerated," the court held. Accordingly, the court granted a mandatory injunction, instructing Wyckoff that it could seek a warrant of eviction if necessary.

In re Wyckoff Heights Med. Ctr., No. 13192/02 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 25, 2002) (5 pages).

Health Lawyers thanks David Hoffman, of Hoffman & Arshack P.C., in New York, New York, for sending us a copy of this decision.

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