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Planning for your hospital discharge

  • As soon as you enter the hospital, your health care team is thinking about and planning for the day you leave the hospital.

    It is important to remember that hospitals specialize in care that requires doctors to manage an illness or injury every day. When your health care needs no longer require this type of care, planning must start for the rest of your recovery.

    You may need the care of a skilled nursing facility, home care or rehabilitation if you have the following needs when your hospital stay ends:

    • wound care
    • intravenous (IV) medicines or treatments
    • rehabilitation services
    • help transferring from the chair to the bed
    • help with walking
    • help with daily tasks, such as eating, getting dressed, using the toilet or taking medicines unless a care giver will help with these tasks

    Transferring your care to another facility may be confusing and, at times, overwhelming. You need to know what your options are for your care. You also need to be involved in these decisions.

    Once you no longer need hospital care, the transfer to a skilled nursing facility can happen quickly. You will have the information and help you need to be prepared for this change. With the help of staff members, your transition can be a smooth one.

    Making your discharge easier

    Your doctor and health care team will talk with you about when you will leave the hospital. The date and time may change depending on your health.

    While you are in the hospital

    • Ask your nurse or doctor questions about what you will need to know to take care of yourself after you leave the hospital.
    • Talk with your family or friends to find out who would be available to take you home.
    • If you are paying for private transportation, be sure to make a reservation for the day you will be leaving the hospital. If you need help, please ask your nurse.
    • If a family member is going to help you at home, ask him or her to come to the hospital to get any instructions from the nurses.
    • Learn about your medicines. Be sure you know the names, what they do, how much to take, when to take them, how to take them and how to store them. Ask your nurse if the medicines react with other medicines.

    Day before discharge

    • Tell the person who is driving you home from the hospital what day and time to pick you up.
    • Ask family members or friends to start taking home some of your personal items, such as flowers, cards, cell phone or extra clothes.

    Day of discharge

    • Remind the person driving you home what time to be at the hospital.
    • Make sure you have all of your personal items.
    • You will receive information and instructions for follow-up appointments.
    • Be sure you review and understand information on your discharge instruction sheet.
    • Please ask your nurse or doctor if you have any questions or concerns.