18- Jul2016
Posted By: Tony Fischer

Hospital Discharge: Five Things You Need To Know

Going to the hospital is scary enough.  This is especially true if you are a senior.  An extended hospital stay could turn into a nursing home stay if the senior lacks support at home to help them recover.  In order to avoid this seniors should have a plan in place that springs into action when a healthcare crisis arises.

The biggest barrier to putting together a solid care plan is misunderstanding how the system works.  This post will focus on the hospital discharge process and highlight the five things seniors and families should know.

1. The Hospital Discharge Plan Begins The Day You Are Admitted

Discharge plans can be complicated.  In order for the hospital social worker to adequately plan they need to start planning right away.  Although they must evaluate medical tests and responses to treatments, the hospital staff begins thinking about how to successfully and safely discharge the patient pending the outcomes of those tests the minute they are admitted.

It only makes sense that seniors and their families begin thinking about who will help when recovering at home.

2. Check to Make Sure That You Were Admitted

Just because you are in a hospital bed overnight doesn’t mean you have been admitted. Sometimes hospitals will hold patients overnight for observation without admitting them. Be sure to check on your admission status with the charge nurse or doctor. This is critical because some insurance coverages will only be triggered after a hospital stay.

3. Hospitals Want to Prevent Readmission

Most people don’t realize that the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) has changed the way hospitals view successful treatment.  In previous years, Medicare and the healthcare system have used a cost control model to determine success. But the new law has changed the focus to that of outcomes and preventing readmissions.

In order for a hospital to prevent a readmission they must make sure patients have all the resources they need prior to discharge.  Resources include those in the community and those covered by insurance.  If the patient lacks a hospital discharge care plan, it’s the hospital social worker’s job to help develop one.

4. You Can Choose Your Own Care Provider

In process of trying to put together a hospital discharge plan quickly, doctors and hospital social workers will have suggestions as to which senior care service an elderly patient should use.  While some social workers may have good knowledge of how the healthcare system works outside of the hospital, most fail to understand the types of services available and how they are covered by insurance.  Social workers are among the hardest working professionals in the hospital but they often had very large case-loads. They don’t have time to keep up on services outside of the immediate hospital environment.

Remember even if the social worker or doctor recommends a services you don’t have to use it. Be sure to speak with a representative from that service to make sure they can meet your needs. If it is a facility be sure to tour.

Additionally, just because the service may be covered by insurance that doesn’t override your right to choose. In fact new healthcare law mandates each patient be given the opportunity to choose their own healthcare service.

If you feel you are being forced to use a particular service remind the hospital staff of your rights.

5. Check for Medication and Treatment Changes

Each time a patient is discharged from hospital they are given order from the attending physicians. These orders cover everything from medications to treatment instructions.

Patients assume that hospitals are able to pull medical information from their personal care physician.   However your doctors electronic medical records system may not be fully integrated with hospital system.

No one understands a patient’s medical treatments and medications better than the patient themselves.  Be sure to compare your hospital discharge orders with the care plan you have with your primary care physician, the hospital doctor may have made some changes.

Discharge plans have the best outcomes when the senior’s entire family is involved.  Be proactive and contact the social worker assigned to your case right away. Open communication will help you be prepared when the time comes to leave the hospital.