While a lot of people like to leave rehab right away, some people like to stay in the facility to improve their over-all health – among many other reasons. Unfortunately, even if you feel like you’re not completely treated, you may be asked to go home prematurely in a process most know as ‘early release’
Also known as early discharge, this can be done to people who have:
- Improved or recovered
- Needs that cannot be met by the rehab center
- Put the health and safety of other rehab residents in danger
- Not paid despite receiving billing notices
Table of Contents
- What Happens During and After an Early Release?
- Why You May Want to Resist an Early Release
- How to Fight an Early Release
- How to Return to Rehab After Early Release
What Happens During and After an Early Release?
Should the facility deem you fit for an early release, it should inform you through a written notice 30 days before your discharge. But in times of emergency, this grace period might be lessened.
And if the facility decides to finally discharge you, it should give you a discharge plan. It should outline where you need to go, ideally near your family members. It should also detail the care you need to receive after your release.
Before you are ‘let go’ by the facility, you should be informed of the bed-hold policy. Here, the state requires the facility to hold your bed for several days to a week. If you pay from your own pocket, then you will need to pay a fee to hold your bed. However, if you’re under Medicaid, the organization will be paying the amount of the hold.
Why You May Want to Resist an Early Release
While most patients would like to recuperate at home, it’s not always feasible for substance users. Here are some common reasons why patients may find themselves resisting an early release.
More often than not, it’s because they have trouble recovering from addiction. There is no specified time for this, as people battle their demons differently from others.
Some patients may also want to stay at the rehab facility because of several concerns. For example, he may be suffering from other addictions (say, he is an alcoholic and a cocaine user) or if he has a co-occurring mental disorder such as depression or anxiety. The individual may not be equipped to handle your multiple conditions, which is why he would prefer to stay in rehab for the time being.
The resident’s desire to extend his or her stay in the facility may also stem from his or her concerns at home. Maybe he doesn’t have somebody to look after him. Maybe he is afraid that he may relapse once you get back to your old ‘addiction hub’.
How to Fight an Early Release
Here are several ways for you to resist an early release:
1. Read the Proposed Discharge Plan
Just because the medical professionals think you’re fit for discharge doesn’t mean you should read the plan they have given you. You should study it to see if it’s workable and safe for you. You may even use its content – should you find it unfeasible – when you file a case or complaint regarding your release.
2. Ask About the Safe Discharge Policy
Even if this term is often used by Medicare patients, you can use this in your appeal as well. If you believe that you won’t be safe after discharge, you can cite this policy as the main reason why you want to stay longer in rehab.
3. Don’t Move Out!
Don’t panic and leave the facility even if you have received a notice of discharge. Instead, stay put in the facility and request an appeal through the designated state agency, which should be imprinted in the notice.
If the notice doesn’t contain such information, you or your representative should try to search for the proper contact details. Remember, those who conduct hearings might not be the same body that processes complaints.
4. Appeal Your Case with a Quality Improvement Organization
You may try and appeal the release with a local Quality Improvement Organization. The decision is often swift, as it will only take a day or two. Remember, should your case be rejected, your insurance will not pay for the additional days you spend in the rehab facility.
5. File a Complaint with a Long-Care Ombudsman
If you believe that you are not fit to be discharged, you may fight your release by filing a complaint with a long-care ombudsman. As an advocate of living facilities, he/she is trained on resolving any related problems that may arise.
Apart from handling the issue of improper transfer or discharge, an ombudsman can also address the following concerns:
- Violation of the resident’s right or dignity
- Deprivation of care
- Poor quality of services
- Any resident concern regarding the quality of life
How to Return to Rehab After Early Release
You should not hesitate to assert your right to get the next available bed. As such, you may need to check in with the facility every day for a vacancy. More often than not, facilities will give in to residents who are simply relentless.
Again, you can seek the help of the local ombudsman to help you go back to the facility. You may also try to file an urgent complaint with the facility inspection agency. You should emphasize the need for immediate action so you can back to the rehab right away.
Should worst come to worst, you may opt to file a court order against the facility. To increase your chances of winning the case, you should seek the help of a knowledgeable local attorney.
If you feel that being discharged at the moment is not safe for you, you may fight this early release. You can appeal your situation to the QIO, or seek the help of a long-term care ombudsman. You may even file a court order if you know that the circumstances are on your side. While staying longer at rehab will mean more expensive fees, it’s a small price to pay given the safety and sobriety that you can achieve at the facility.