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Discharge planning helps to make sure that you leave the hospital safely and smoothly and get the right care after that.
You, the person who is caring for you, and your discharge planner work together to address your concerns in a discharge plan. Whether you go home, to a relative's home, to a rehabilitation facility, or to another health care setting, your plan outlines the care you need.
A day or two before you expect to leave the hospital, ask to meet with your discharge planner.
Your discharge planner can tell you why you are going home or to another health care setting and why your care is changing. You will work together on:
Write down any questions you have about what will happen when you get home, what your family can do to help, or who's going to pay for your care.
To help you plan what you'll need after leaving the hospital, use this hospital discharge checklist(What is a PDF document?).
Why would your doctor say you're ready to go home when you may not feel ready?
Talk to your doctor about your worries. Even though you don't feel strong enough to go home, your doctor can explain why it's important for you to go home or go to another health care setting.
If you're really not comfortable with your doctor's recommendation that you go home, ask for help from the hospital's patient advocate.
If you have been living in another health care setting—for example, a nursing home or a rehabilitation hospital—you'll have to talk with someone about leaving for your hospital stay and then coming back afterward. Find out what you'll have to do to get the same bed and room, and ask about any costs.
If you have been living at home but will need to go to another setting when you leave the hospital, the discharge planner can give you a list of options. You, a family member, or a friend will have to call around to see which one you prefer. Things to think about when choosing another setting include:
Before you leave the hospital, talk to your nurse or other hospital staff about things you'll have to do at home. Get information in writing about:
It's easy to think you can do everything, but it can be hard. If you feel you or your caregiver won't or can't do certain tasks, say so. Try to make other arrangements.
After you leave the hospital, the best way to benefit from your treatment is to take good care of yourself. Remember that you are the most important member of your health care team.
Follow your doctor's instructions, which may include things like taking medicines as prescribed, getting needed exercise, or knowing how to take care of an incision from surgery.
Taking good care of yourself after you get back home is the best way to avoid a return trip to the hospital.
Other Works ConsultedAgency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2011). 20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors. Patient Fact Sheet (AHRQ Publication No. 11-0089). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/20tips.pdf.Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Becoming a responsible health care consumer. In Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 453–484. New York: McGraw-Hill.Hyman D (2012). Advancing the quality and safety of care. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 1–8. New York: McGraw-Hill.Shepperd S, et al. (2010). Discharge planning from hospital to home. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).Wachter RM (2012). Quality of care and patient safety. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 41–44. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of: December 18, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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