Staying in the hospital is not most people’s idea of a good time, so an early discharge can sound appealing. However, getting to go home quicker can have its downsides when health care providers fail to plan the discharge properly.
Mismanaging the discharge process can cause illness, injuries or wrongful death, and may fall into the category of medical malpractice. If your discharge has damaged your health, consulting a lawyer can give you insight as to the legal position of your case.
About discharge planning
Discharge planning refers to the process of transferring a patient from the hospital to his or her home or to another facility. This can be a complex process that involves many steps and participation by doctors, nurses and caseworkers.
Essential components of a discharge plan
First, it is important to ensure the patient is ready to leave the hospital. This means reviewing all the information and making an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition.
Next, it is essential to transfer all pertinent medical information. If a patient is moving from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility, the facility’s providers need to receive complete medical records. Otherwise, there is a risk of the patient failing to receive necessary treatment or medications.
The patient also needs to receive comprehensive instructions. Many people still have a substantial amount of recovery to complete after they leave the hospital and need instructions on how to continue necessary treatments. This can include referrals to a specialist, instructions for follow-up appointments, prescriptions, and instructions on taking medication or using equipment. Patients should receive complete verbal and written instructions in a language they understand.
Standards for discharge practices
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services have set forth discharge planning requirements for their participating hospitals. These rules begin by requiring hospitals to start discharge planning at least 48 hours prior to discharge; optimally, planning should start soon after admission. This is because a plan made in a hurry is more likely to overlook important information. The rules also have detailed procedures as to who should make the plan and how hospitals need to design plans.