- CHECK THE DRUG LIST Medication errors are a frequent cause of readmissions. Ask for an up-to-date medication list and then double-check the information with the hospital pharmacist. Make sure the patient knows when and how to take new pills.You can print out a medication form from NextStepInCare.org, a Web site created by the nonprofit United Hospital Fund that offers free guides to help patients learn how to make the transition to a different care setting.
- MAKE A DISCHARGE PLAN Most hospitals provide a discharge plan in writing, but it may be incomplete and difficult to decipher. Compile your own plan that can be a guide for the patient, the caregiver and other doctors.The document should include a precise diagnosis, future appointments, a contact list and whom to call if new symptoms arise.You can download the Boost program’s one-page Patient Pass form from the Project Boost Web site at hospitalmedicine.org. A similar form tailored to your situation — for example, for discharge from hospital to a home or to a nursing home — is available at NextStepInCare.org. A patient ready to leave the hospital may not be ready to go home. Physical therapy, occupational therapy or wound care that would best be administered at a rehab facility or a nursing home may be needed first.Talk to the doctor and the discharge planner about what location would be best for the patient.
- CONTACT THE PRIMARY DOCTOR Urge the discharge planner or the hospital doctor to contact the patient’s primary care physician and set up required future appointments. Ideally, the primary care doctor will take over where the surgeons and specialists left off. The sooner a patient sees their PCP, the better. If the hospital staff is not making that connection, then pick up the telephone and make the call yourself. (or hire a geriatric care manager to help)
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