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Is it a law?


Specializes in LTC, Surgery.

Can anyone tell me if it is a state law, safety standard, community or national standard that when patients leave the hospital they must leave via a wheelchair. I work in the surgery department and am wondering if every patient has to leave by wheelchair. Many of our patients, and most all of our endo patients want to walk out themselves rather then being pushed out. I have even had patients become very angery when told they need to go out by wheelchair.



I'm under the impression that it's a liability issue for the facility more then an actual law.

I agree with Cookie -- I've always known it to be "hospital policy" not necessarily law.


Specializes in Telemetry & Obs.

I've had patients walk out...they were walking the halls all day anyway.

I've also walked out myself when a patient.

It just depends on their condition...use prudent judgement.

We let them walk out, but we chart that we offered a wheelchair and they refused it. Just a CYA policy for the institution, I believe.

ChristineN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric/Adolescent, Med-Surg.

I all ways offer discharge patients a wheelchair, but most of the time they refuse. I think that if you are worried about a lawsuit or anything all you need to do is document "Pt discharged, refused wheelchair, walked out of hospital" and you'd be covering your ass. Personally, as a young person myself, I'd be pretty upset if a nurse forced me to use a wheelchair and I didn't physically need one.


Specializes in Surgical Telemetry.

I don't think it is a law but I worked in ambulatory surgery where anyone who received general or MAC anesthesia was discharged by wheelchair. Noone really ever made a big deal about it. Local cases could walk out.

Now I work on a cardiac unit (in the same hospital) and we offer all discharges a wheelchair but they can walk out if they liked. I just chart whether they were ambulatory or discharged via wheelchair.


Specializes in Acute Care/ LTC. Has 13 years experience.

i always wondered that myself. i would just document in the d/c note if they said they prefered to walk and i felt it was safe to do so.


Specializes in Gyn/STD clinic tech.

i had cosmetic surgery under general anesthesia at a hospital, and i remember that i needed help using the bathroom, and leaving the hospital.

there was no way i was walking just yet, i was pretty out of it still. ga is some tough stuff.

Ginger's Mom, MSN, RN

Has 41 years experience.

I believe like others have posted it is a liability or risk management issue.

Fall prevention...The only times I have came close to falling during my ongoing recovery from my fibula fx is when I have been in the clinic/hospital setting...

BabyLady, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.

Anesthesia and sedation will make you think you can do things that you cannot.

I had surgery once and the next day, had the bright idea that I could walk down the hallway, and down another one to visit a friend that worked there...only to collapse at the nurses station in another department from sheer weakness.

I think a hospital would be very foolish to allow a patient to walk out on their own when they have had a procedure done that required anesthesia or sedation...and charting would most likely not cover you...especially if they are on pain meds, b/c in the event of a fall, a good lawyer could make the "altered state of mind" argument.

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