Getting the news that you’ll be heading home from the hospital can be a big relief at first. Recovering from an injury or illness in your own home is, for the most part, a much more comfortable experience than it is in the hospital. Unfortunately, the reality of leaving the hospital is that you’ll be faced with a whole new set of potential issues.
There’s more room for error when your care is no longer being managed around the clock by a professional. Luckily, there are a few steps you and your caregivers can take to ensure to transition to home goes as smoothly as possible. Here are five things you should consider doing prior to your discharge:
1. Have your doctor or pharmacist perform a medication reconciliation
A medication reconciliation is the process of creating the most comprehensive list possible of the medications you take – including the dosage, how the medication should be taken and at what time of day. Research suggests 40% of medication errors are the result of improper medication reconciliation during times of care transitions. Reconciliations help to ensure the medications you may have been taking prior to your hospital stay will not interfere with the medications you may have been prescribed at the hospital. A medication reconciliation can help you stay organized.
2. Establish follow-up appointments with your primary care provider (PCP)
Caring for your condition doesn’t end when you leave the hospital – even if you feel better. Data show 20% of Medicare patients who leave the hospital end up back in the hospital within 30 days. Timely follow-up appointments with your PCP can help you avoid readmission.
Your PCP can help answer any questions you may have about your medications, how to recognize red flags that could signal complications, and the lifestyle changes you should be making in order to improve your condition.
3. Establish your transportation plans
Once you leave the hospital it’s important to figure out who will be able to transport you to follow-up appointments, the pharmacy, physical therapy sessions or anywhere else you may need to go to support your care. Friends and family are the best solution for transportation needs if they’re available, but you should also familiarize yourself with how to use apps like Uber or Lyft in the event you are unable to use public transportation independently. Hospital social workers may also be able to help you connect with transportation services to help you.
4. Obtain your medical records prior to leaving the hospital
Having your medical records to provide to your care providers going forward will help to make sure your health management is comprehensive. Without your records, your doctors may not know everything about your history, the care you received while you were in the hospital and any other relevant information.
5. Find out what your insurance will and will not cover from your hospital stay
One of the most nerve wracking things about leaving the hospital is wondering what kind of a bill you should be expecting to receive in the mail. Before you leave, ask to speak with a hospital social worker to ask any questions you may have about insurance billing related to your stay. They are there to help clarify what will and will not be covered under your insurance and how much you could be required to pay. In many cases, there are payment options available to you if you need assistance with your bill.
6. Consider In Home Care
The goal of home care companies is to provide assistance and guidance for your aging loved ones from the comfort and safety of their own home. Services can be provided for those returning from the hospital, recovering from surgery, or simply for loved ones who are aging and need extra assistance. A home care professional provides a helping hand with everyday activities such as:
- Grooming and bathing
- Medication reminders
- Running errands (grocery shopping, prescription pick-up)
- Movement and mobility