Planning a Hospital Discharge Home Checklist Makes for a Safe Landing
The experience of hospital discharge, either to home or another health care facility (such as a Skilled Nursing Facility or Rehabilitation center) can be one of the most stressful and dangerous parts of someone’s health care journey. There will be over 10 million hospital discharges each year for people over the age of 65 for the foreseeable future. In fact, one study showed that nearly 20% of patients experience an “adverse event” after hospital discharge such as medication mix-ups, hospital-acquired infections and procedural complications. A more subtle danger is the lack of follow-up on important diagnostic tests leading to missed diagnoses. Patient safety experts strongly advocate for CHECKLISTS to be employed by both health care professionals and patient’s families to ensure that the complexities of hospital discharge can be safely maneuvered. Ironically, these checklists are not widely available to the health care consumer, but we have complied a few critical CHECKLISTS to help you “see to” a safe hospital discharge!
Some of the things that are important to think about when leaving the hospital are:
- Do you have a new list of medications? How does it compare to the medication list before hospitalization? Which medicines should be discarded?
- What are the potential complications from any procedure you underwent? What should you return to the hospital for? How can you reach your doctor for any questions about symptoms or difficulties when you are home?
- Know when and with whom you need to follow up. Were referrals made for other specialists? When are those appointments scheduled? Do you need to make the appointment?
- Do you need a Nurse, Therapist, Home Health Aide or any Medical Supplies at home?
- What were you able to do before being admitted, what are your anticipated care needs now? How long will you need extra help?
More and more, families will be responsible for what happens after a hospitalization, especially when the destination is home. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, although home health is covered by some insurance, nearly 70% of patients had NO home visit from a nurse or other health care professional after hospital discharge. The article also highlights a new effort by the Family Caregiver Alliance to train family caregivers about the basics of home care after hospitalization via You Tube videos. This may be more than many families can muster on their own, so those that can afford private duty nursing services may choose to avail themselves of private nursing services after hospital discharge. Before committing to pay for a private duty nurse, it’s important to check with your insurer to see if any Home Health services are covered (some are even covered by Medicare). All families and supporters of patients coming home from the hospital should check out C2it Discharge Planners to start getting organized around this critical time in a person’s medical journey.