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Discharge Planning Should Be A Team Approach | Deltona Medical Malpractice Attorney

Discharge Planning Should Be A Team Approach

Good planning and follow-up are crucial to improving patients’ health, reducing readmissions and decreasing healthcare costs, researachers say, which is why discharge planning is so important.

Deciding what a patient needs for a smooth transition from one level of care to another is the goal of discharge planning.

According to the folks at Medicare, discharge planning, especially for the most complicated medical conditions, should really be done with a team approach. The team would include the doctor, social worker, nurse, case manager and patient’s spouse or family.

“The discussion needs to include the physical condition of your family member both before and after hospitalization; details of the types of care that will be needed; and whether discharge will be to a facility or home,” according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

The discussion also should include information on whether the patient’s condition is likely to improve; what activities he or she might need help with; information on medications and diet; what extra equipment might be needed, such as a wheelchair, commode, or oxygen; who will handle meal preparation, transportation and chores; and possibly referral to home care services.

Studies have shown that as many as 40 percent of patients over 65 had medication errors after leaving the hospital, and 18 percent of Medicare patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days.

“This is not good for the patient, not good for the hospital, and not good for the financing agency, whether it’s Medicare, private insurance, or your own funds,” the FCA says.
According to the FCA, the basics of a discharge plan are:

    • Evaluation of the patient by qualified personnel
    • Discussion with the patient or his representative
    • Planning for homecoming or transfer to another care facility
    • Determining if caregiver training or other support is needed
    • Referrals to home care agency and/or appropriate support organizations in the community
    • Arranging for follow-up appointments or tests.
    • Effective discharge planning can decrease the chances that the patient is readmitted to the hospital, help in recovery, ensure medications are prescribed and given correctly, and adequately prepare family members to take over a patient’s care.

Not all hospitals are successful in this. Although both the American Medical Association and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) offer recommendations for discharge planning, there is no universally utilized system in US hospitals. Additionally, patients are released from hospitals “quicker and sicker” than in the past, making it even more critical to arrange for good care after release.

Necessary measures for planning include:

      • Telephone number(s) accessible 24 hours a day including weekends, for care information
      • A follow-up appointment to see the doctor should be arranged before your loved one leaves the hospital
      • A thorough review of all medications
      • Compare pre-hospitalization medications with the post-discharge list to see that there are no duplications, omissions or harmful side effects.

When should discharge planning begin? According to the FCA, the discharge planner should start his or her evaluation as soon as the patient is admitted to the hospital.

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