The US Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996 ('The Two-Day Law') mandates insurance coverage for women who have just given birth to remain in hospital for two days post-partum. However, many women are being discharged from hospital after 24 hours. To assess why early discharge is still occurring, a study of 406 new mothers was conducted at an urban metropolitan hospital in the USA. The women were aware of the new law (95%) but decision making was often relinquished to hospital authorities. Patients who stayed longer tended to be more assertive in decision making, and used the Two-Day Law as leverage in discussions about going home. The study concluded that the nurses were authoritative and often influential agents in the decision-making process, and that patients were likely to interpret specific interactions with hospital staff as a signal to leave.