Leaving hospital? Prepare a plan!

The stress of a hospital stay can be very overwhelming for both the patient and caregiver.   As a tenured employee of a large hospital system, I thought I knew all the answers to the discharge process until it was my mother in the hospital bed.  My mother was one of the statistics of returning back to the hospital within 30 days of leaving.  Unfortunately, these repeat admissions within the month add billions of dollars to national healthcare costs.  As a consumer, there are ten things you can do to ensure an easier transition to home or a skilled rehabilitation center.

1. Meet with discharge planner of the hospital at the beginning of the hospital stay.

2. Patients and their family members should take the initiative in discussing the specifics of plan of care with their doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and discharge planner while at the hospital.

3. Contact the patient’s primary care physician and set up a post op appointment. (Don’t assume the hospital has contacted the PCP and informed them about the hospitalization.)

4. Under Medicare part B, Medicaid, and some commercial insurers patients can exercise their home care benefit.  Home care can provide nursing, therapy, speech, home health aide, and a social worker.  Patients must be homebound and can receive home care services until the medical goals are met. A minimum of five days of home care can potentially reduce the potential for a re admission to the hospital.

5. If a skilled building is offered for additional rehabilitation, take the time to research the facility’s quality outcomes.  As a caregiver, it is advisable to make an unannounced tour of the building prior to admission.

6. Most important, leave the hospital with a written plan of care. In addition, review the medication list and make sure you have enough time to fill the prescriptions.

7. If durable equipment is ordered, (i.e.:  wheel chair, hospital bed) make sure these items are in place in the home prior to the discharge.

8. Push for a discharge from the hospital before 1:00 p.m. and before Friday.  Avoid an admission to a skilled rehab building on a Friday.  (Staffing at a skilled building can be limited over the weekend)

9. Bring a clean outfit to the patient at discharge.  Attempt to take things home prior to the day of discharge.

10. Download the patient checklist and care transition plan at http://www.CareAboutYourCare.0rg


About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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