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Against Medical Advice, or AMA, sometimes known as DAMA, Discharge Against Medical Advice, is a term used with a patient who checks himself out of a hospital against the advice of his doctor. While it may not be medically wise for the person to leave early, in most cases the wishes of the patient are considered first. The patient is usually asked to sign a form stating that he is aware that he is leaving the facility against medical advice, and the AMA term is used on reports concerning the patient. This is for legal reasons in case there are complications to limit liability on the part of the medical facility.
In a mental hospital setting, a patient is typically allowed to check out of the hospital by giving at least a day's notice (though in some jurisdictions the time may vary depending on whether the patient is under "informal" or "formal" voluntary commitment). This is so that if the doctor believes that the patient would be a danger to self or others, the doctor has time to begin commitment proceedings against the patient to compel the patient to remain in the hospital for treatment.
When a patient checks out against medical advice, the patient's insurer may not pay for subsequent stays for the same condition.