As a nurse, I have literally discharged hundreds of patients home or to a care facility. Most of the time, the patients are so anxious to get home that he/she doesn’t really grasp the concept of their discharge plans. If you care for someone whom is being discharged from the hospital, please make sure that you follow these five guidelines:
ACTUALLY, NUMBER 1 AND 2 START BEFORE THE ACTUAL DISCHARGE.
- Make sure that the hospital has your family member’s correct address, PCP, pharmacy name and number, medication list, and the list of medical equipment they use. Discharge planning actually starts WAYYYY before a person is discharged! AND ACTUALLY, THESE THINGS, IF NOT CORRECT COULD HOLD UP YOUR DISCHARGE!
- Get a copy of their discharge instructions. On that are usually their discharge appointments, medications, and information on their disease process. Make sure before you or your loved one signs the paperwork that they review it with the nurse and make sure you understand all terminology. If a person has a wound, usually wound-care instructions will be on the paper as well. If you have any questions, this is the time you need to ask them.
- Make sure that not only one caregiver is aware of the discharge instructions, but all caregivers should be aware of the discharge instructions. Usually the care regimen has changed when a person is discharged, so anyone who takes care of the person should be notified of the change in medications, diet, wound-care, etc. Failure to communicate between caregivers is a recipe for disaster. Your goal should be to keep your family member safely at home. Failure to communicate between caregivers could possibly send them back to the hospital because of failure to execute changes.
- Medications upon discharge normally change. A person could be on the same medication before discharge, but after discharge the dosage may have changed. You could never be too careful. Please check and recheck dosages and schedules of medications. If you are taking any over the counter medicine, or if you don’t understand why you are on a medicine, please contact your doctor ASAP. You could never be too careful when it comes to medication.
- Stop Right Now and Make Your Follow-Up Appointments. If your appointments were not made by the discharge nurse or secretary, please do not delay on calling and setting up your follow-up appointments. Most doctors’ offices will try to work in an appointment for a person who has been discharged from the hospital recently, but on occasion, there can be some delay in those appointments.