Discharge planning helps to make
sure that you leave the hospital safely and smoothly and get the right care
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.
When it comes to reducing your hospital risks, questions are key. "Most
patients simply don't ask enough questions," says Carolyn Clancy, MD,
director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville,
Md. "But the enlightened minority who do ask questions in the hospital have
a greater sense of control over their health -- and they just do
You should start asking questions about your hospital risks long before you
check in. Next time you see your doctor -- or...
A day or two before you expect to leave the hospital, ask to meet with your discharge planner.
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:
What care and services you may need after you leave. This can include nursing,
occupational therapy, or speech therapy. An agency may
set up a program to check your
oxygen saturation, or weight.
What equipment you may need, such as a walker or oxygen.
Whether or not you can get care at your home. You may need to
go to another health care setting, such as a skilled nursing facility, a
rehabilitation hospital, or an assisted living facility. Or family or friends
may stay with you at your home, or you may stay with them.
How to best move you from the hospital
to your home or to another health care setting.
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.
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.
What if you're going to another health care setting?
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:
How you'll receive your prescriptions, such
as on-site or by mail order or delivery.
If there are any problems
with using any medical equipment.
How easy it is for your family
or caregiver to get to it and visit you.