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Planning for a Discharge from a Healthcare Facility


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Use our "Know Before You Go" presentation to teach patients (and their family, friends, and caregivers) about how to prepare for a hospital stay, understand the discharge process, and avoid a return trip to the hospital.

One in five Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after discharge. To avoid return visits, it’s important for patients and families to play an active role during the discharge planning.

Before leaving the care of a hospital, nursing home, or other healthcare facility, be sure to complete four important steps—which are outlined in the video and described below.

Medicine checklist: For each medicine you are taking, make sure that you have information about what the medicine is for, how to take it correctly, and what side effects to watch out for. (See example medication lists.)

“Red Flag” list: Nearly every illness comes with some signs—“red flags”—that will tell you that you may be having problems or that you need to check with your doctor. Before leaving the hospital or nursing home, know what to watch out for.

Follow-up appointments: An important part of taking care of yourself after you leave a hospital or other care facility is to be sure to call your primary care doctor to make an appointment right away. When it’s time for discharge, have an action plan to make that appointment. In addition, ask your care team if you need to schedule any lab work or other tests.

Personal Health Record: A personal health record is a powerful tool that allows patients to organize, store, and keep track of health information. Be sure yours is up to date so that you can share detailed information about your hospital or care facility visit with your primary care doctor and any caregivers who may be helping you at home. The Amercian Health Information Management Association offers two downloadable forms to get you started (English version or Spanish version).

Not ready to leave?

If you are concerned that you or a family member is being discharged too soon, please review this information outlining Medicare's appeal process.