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How the healthcare system may cause harm – Part V

Most in Queens may assume that their being discharged from the hospital is a sign that the worst of their medical ordeals is over. However, the execution of one’s discharge may have a direct influence on his or her potential for recovery. Statistics seem to back this idea up. Information shared by the AARP Bulletin shows that of a sample of Medicare patients hospitalized for surgery, 50 percent had either died or been readmitted within a year.

Discharge planning plays a vital role in recovery in that it is during this time when a patient receives all vital information regarding his or her continuing care, such as:

  •          The use of medications
  •          Diet and exercise restrictions
  •          Recommended follow-up care
  •          Transition to home care or physical therapy

The trouble is that much of this information is communicated to a patient only upon discharge, which may result in a patient feeling overwhelmed and retaining little if any of the instructions given.

The Center for Medicare Services may require a discharge planning evaluation be done immediately following a patient’s admission. In it, a provider should address a patient’s post-discharge needs in accordance with his or her hospital care plan. While CMS states that such an evaluation is only required for patients who likely would face adverse health consequences without it, providers must also complete one for any patients for whom it is requested by their attending physicians or the patient themselves.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality goes even further in recommended that written plans be created for any discharge, while recognizing that waiting until discharge to so do increases the risk of errors. It goes on to reinforce that education regarding aftercare should be done throughout a patient’s hospital stay as opposed to right before he or she is leaving. 

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