A friend of mine (20-30) was recently admitted into hospital for minor surgery. When we visited him a few days later he was certainly better, but then the next day he told me that he was in pain and begged me to take him home.

When I arrived, he was experiencing recurring headaches and occasional vomiting. I stayed throughout the day and heard him screaming and crying every time a headache struck. Eventually, the pain seemed to subside, so I decided not to stay the night and to visit him the next morning.

In the morning, he asked to be discharged from hospital, despite not completing the therapy and still suffering from headaches and bouts of vomiting. His wanting to leave was against common sense: He should've waited until the treatment was ended and the symptoms were gone.

But he begged me in a very "painful voice". He kept saying please. As a result, I found myself giving in to his request and helped him pack his things. Let's say the journey home was not enjoyable...

Usually common sense tells me what to do. But in this case, I couldn't help but think of relieving my best friend from pain (although I believe it won't help him) by granting his request.

I believe that he should have stayed at hospital. But next time, when a friend begs me to help him leave hospital

How to effectively say no to his request, especially since he was unable to take a better judgment due to his pain?

Logic seems out of option - he seemed to be in great pain, and it clouded his better judgment. Inquiry about his pain cannot produce a meaningful result due to unclear response and very soft voice. The symptoms actually are very confusing, because it happened suddenly and seemed to be unrelated to the surgery (knee vs head). The doctors could not give a satisfying answer and seemed to be only guessing, so it might add to his rage quitting the hospital.

Update: The doctor dismissed the symptoms as post-surgery effect. However, they were puzzled by their appearance because of the unrelated location. I also find it hard to believe.

I believe the symptoms will subside and disappear after several days, and he's not in any danger of dying, but I'm concerned about how he'll cope alone because no one is able to take care of him on weekdays. He's technically living "alone" with no next of kin nearby, and friends are unavailable during the day because of work.

  • It very much depends on the person's age and condition of the illness. I took my grandfather from hospital to his original home, arranged home nurses and extra care for him there because it was almost certain that keeping him in the hospital would only add to his suffering. It was a terminal illness. What is it about your friend's?
    – NVZ
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 13:01
  • 2
    Were the doctors concerned for your friend's safety based on his symptoms? Did anyone indicate something more serious might be happening?
    – threetimes
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 13:47
  • Does he have other friends / family that could've helped him instead?
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 14:45
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    I'm not sure this falls under the category of Interpersonal Skills. Was he really delirious? In that case, he wasn't making good decisions, and reasoning with a person with delirium doesn't work. When one side of a rock and a hard place with a delirious person is being treated in the hospital, go in that direction. trying to evaluate his medical care is hard unless you have experience in this area. Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 16:30
  • 1
    "The pain clouded his better judgement," is a great way to put it. Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 17:05

4 Answers 4


Consider the possibility that their main motivation was an addiction to either alcohol or a specific med, which they can pick up in their house but not in the hospital; and much of this is withdrawal symptoms/cold turkey. [Or combination of addiction like pills and caffein, giving an unusual combination of symptoms; tho I'm sure the doctors considered this.]

This is unlikely, but very possible. (USA: over 7million battle drug addiction, out of 21.5million battling addictions.)


If him staying in the hospital is beneficial to his health, I would not support his decision to leave. The question is whether the doctors have done every test possible and decided that his headaches and pain is merely a symptom of his surgery recovery and not an indication of something worse.

For the first case, I would try to be strong for him, and help him understand that despite the doctors not having a solution to the immediate problem, staying and continuing the tests is beneficial. Hospital stay for many is insufferable but for me I've found that with the proper support, either you being there playing board games or him having a laptop to play / watch movies on, staying in the hospital can be seen as a vacation from the worries of the daily routine.

If the case is the second case, that the pain is just a symptom and will go away on it's own, I would support his decision to go home. Pain is temporary and you forget that you had it once it goes away, the best way to alleviate it is to ignore it by having fun and distracting yourself. That's a lot easier to accomplish at home.

As for your friendship, in both cases I believe a true friend would want the best medical result, even if it means losing the friendship. But that's not really a risk because as it may be hard now to explain to your friend why you're making this decision which he hates, he isn't thinking clearly because of pain and worries. Once he will recover he will be able to listen to your logic and understand that all you wanted was for his best, and hopefully he will understand. I know that if I was him, I would much prefer a friend who works against me in my favor than one who enables me in my own destruction.

I've had many complex surgeries with weeks of pain and recovery, and for the most part, I handle it alone and don't ask (or even tell) my friends about what's going on. The fact that he has confided in you in this time means that the friendship is strong and he does want your help coping with the situation.

Sometimes when in extreme pain we revert to a more primitive state, (I've seen this in cognitive elders who cry out for their mothers despite knowing that they are long gone). If you do think staying in the hospital is the right choice, being strong and assertive, without bargaining or discussing the option of going home, can be a good method of passing the message.

  • You know, I really can't imagine anybody in distress calling out for their mother, whether they are young or old or whether their mothers are living or not. Is this just a metaphor or an urban legend? Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 18:19
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    Twice I've seen this happen, it wasnt pleasant to witness.
    – InterP
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 22:18

Try to find out what the reason is your friend wants to leave the hospital so badly.

The fact that this friend is so insistent about going home suggests that there is a strong reason they want to leave. Without knowing the reason, you can't make an informed decision, nor can anyone on this site give you good advice.

For example, the reason might be that a case of an addiction and withdrawal from that addiction as user3445853 suggests. Alternatively, the reason may be that the setting of the hospital room is causing mental distress. As you may be able to see, the whole discussion on whether or not you should take him home changes completely. It's also quite likely you may have a better grasp on what to do yourself.


Straightforward advice. Just take him home. Don't say no. I'm not in pain, and my judgement is not clouded. Just step in his shoes and see, what do you feel? If it's just post surgery symptoms, they'll just subside over time. In the meanwhile, what he needs is not treatment, but a friend in love and his/her affection. Because its your presence that makes him feel secure and not the treatment.

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