When you are getting ready to leave the hospital you will, most likely, have a nurse go over all the instructions for your care and recovery at home. They will review your medications as prescribed while you were in the hospital. Here are a few things you can do to help transition safely from the hospital setting to your home:
- Have a friend or relative present when you are discharged from the hospital. They can help you ask questions and remember important information such as medications and follow-up appointments.
- Make sure you have a follow-up appointment scheduled with your Primary Care Physician (PCP). Ask someone to help you make this call. It is imperative that you have a physician who can coordinate your care and who knows the medications you are currently taking. Be sure your PCP knows of any changes in medications which may have been ordered by the hospitalist. Try to get this appointment within 1 week of being discharged from the hospital. If you do not feel you can make an appointment that quickly, then call your PCP and ask if they can order Home Health Nursing for you so that a Registered Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse (RN or LVN) can visit you at home. (This is referred to as “skilled nursing”.) The nurse will review your plan of care and alert your physician to any medication discrepancies or changes in your plan of care. If Home Healthcare is appropriate (you will be “homebound”) then be sure you choose your Home Healthcare provider before you leave the hospital. Use medicare.gov/homehealthcompare to learn about the best providers in your area.
- Plan how you will obtain the medications that have been ordered by the hospital. Some of the medications can be purchased at the hospital outpatient pharmacy which may be more convenient. You can take the medications with you right from the hospital; but they may not be covered by your insurance. You may decide you want to have your medications ready at your local pharmacy, so you can pick them up on the way home; or you may want them delivered to your home. Be sure that you continue your medications as directed by the hospitalist; at least until you meet with your PCP (at which time your medications may be adjusted).
- Plan how you will obtain any medical equipment that has been ordered for your care at home. Will it be sent with you from the hospital, or delivered to your home the day of your discharge. Confirm the date and time of delivery of portable oxygen, beds, wheelchairs, or any other durable medical equipment that may have been ordered.
- Write down the name and office numbers of the physicians with whom you will need to follow-up per your discharge instructions. Be sure you understand the reason for each appointment and discuss your plan of care with each. Know what type of care you will need such as physicial therapy, occupational therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, or respiratory therapy.
- You may need help caring for yourself when you get home. Organize a schedule of friends or family who can take care of things like cooking, cleaning, bathing, grooming, grocery shopping, traveling back and forth to the physician offices. If no one is available there are companies who can provide these services as private-pay. (These companies are referred to as non-skilled home care.) Ask the case manager at the hospital which companies they would recommend or ask friends and family which company they may have used in the past.
- Make sure your home is ready for your arrival. You should not use steps to enter your home, if you do be certain to have someone with you. Plan to use a bedroom that has a bathroom nearby, without the use of stairs. Place a phone near you. Keep pathways free from clutter. Wear loose fitting clothing. Wear snug fitting, non-slip, low-heeled shoes or slippers.
For more planning tips on how to have a successful hospital visit and safe transition to home, please give us a call at (325) 655-6600. We care about your health and safety!