patient care; patient discharge; hospitalization; treatment refusal; treatment refusal/trends; social determinants of health; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; AMA discharge


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Administration | Internal Medicine | Quality Improvement



Patients leaving against medical advice (AMA) presents a challenge to hospitals as they try to manage costs and improve patient outcomes in an ever-increasing competitive market. Investigating AMA discharges that occurred during the early COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity to better understand this phenomenon and be better prepared for the future.


This retrospective analysis of 34 379 patients from a nationwide private healthcare system across 20 states analyzed patients during the early stages of the pandemic who chose to leave against medical advice (AMA) after being admitted with COVID-19 infection and identified several patient characteristics associated with subsequent AMA discharge.


These patient characteristics included being younger than 50; identifying as male sex; having non-white ethnicity, including both Black and Hispanic; having either Medicaid or no health insurance; and the presence of specific medical comorbidities. The identified medical comorbidities were substance abuse, renal failure, deep vein thrombosis, hypertension with heart failure, hypertension with chronic kidney disease stage 5, rheumatoid arthritis or collagen vascular diseases, alcohol abuse, chronic pulmonary disease, hypertensive encephalopathy, and solid tumor.


This study confirms some of the findings in previous studies looking at AMA discharges and has some interesting findings as it relates specifically to the COVID-19-infected patient population. An additional understanding of the factors leading to AMA discharges can help providers and administrators prevent suboptimal discharge outcomes in the future.