Your care doesn’t end when you’re discharged from the hospital. Whether you are heading home or to a rehabilitation facility, the hospital and your doctors are required to prepare you for your recovery.
Well before you leave the hospital, a “discharge planner” should come and meet with you. This is a specially trained person who consults with your doctor to prepare a written plan for your recovery. The discharge planner should explain the plan to you and your advocate(s), help arrange the support you may need to follow the plan, and make sure you know how to perform the tasks that you’ll need to do yourself.
This person may ask you questions about your home and support network to determine the best place for your recovery. Your discharge planner should give you your plan in writing, as well as who to contact if you have questions.
Pay special attention to new medications. Usually, a nurse will review the medications you will need when you leave the hospital. It is important to know that drug interactions, side effects, and other medication complications account for nearly two-thirds of all problems during the weeks after discharge. Be sure to discuss all medications and supplements you plan to take, get written information about your medications, and discuss possible side effects.
Know Before You Go (Home) Checklist
This checklist will help you organize your needs before you leave the hospital. Print it out and take it to the hospital to use the day you leave. With so many important details, you don’t want to rely on your memory alone.
Medications (Prescriptions, Over-The-Counter Drugs, and Vitamins)
- Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions to have all your records in one place. Doing this allows the pharmacy to warn you about potential drug interactions.
- Get a pill organizer to keep track of the medications you need to take and have taken.
- Course of care (changing bandages, schedule, techniques)
- Necessary supplies
- Expected healing time
- Signs and symptoms to watch out for
Where You’ll Be Staying
- Home of friend/family member
- Rehabilitation facility
- Nursing home
What You’ll Need
- Medical equipment, such as oxygen, a shower chair, or a bed
- In-home health care from a nurse, health aide, or therapist
- Activity (driving, bathing, sex, work, exercise)
Along the Way
- Pick up prescriptions
- Shop for any special food or drinks you’ll need
- Get medical equipment if it’s not already delivered
- Schedule tests and exams
- Schedule physical therapy appointments
- Learn rehabilitation exercises and how often to do them
- Request an itemized bill from the hospital
- Ask for a list of billing codes so you can decipher your bill
- Get an idea of the costs
If Something Goes Wrong
- Warning signs and symptoms
- What to do
- Who to call