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When discharge instructions are unclear, patients are harmed

| Dec 10, 2020 | Hospital Negligence

When you go to the hospital in New York due to an emergency, there are several transitions you will make before you head home. For example, you may transition from the ambulance, to the emergency room, to a medical ward before you are discharged to go home. Being in the hospital can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to taking charge of your own care at home. If you are given different discharge instructions from different providers or the instructions are unclear, you could find yourself ultimately suffering from a worsened condition at home, possibly leading to a second hospital stay.

When discharge instructions are unclear

One major study showed that patients who had a clear understanding of their discharge instructions had lower rates of subsequent hospital stays compared to patients who did not have a clear understanding of their discharge instructions. Some challenges patients faced in their understanding of discharge instructions include:

  • Being physically and emotionally ready to learn how to care for themselves at home
  • Unclear instructions
  • Instructions not tailored to the patient’s learning style and health literacy
  • Conflicting instructions from multiple providers

Patients may have confusion regarding follow-up care, transportation and how to schedule appointments. Ensuring discharge instructions are clear and use patient-friendly language can be key in a patient’s post hospital-stay care.

Improving discharge planning

There are steps hospitals can take to improve discharge instructions. “Teach-back” tools that are used to assess a patient’s understanding of their discharge instructions may be available. Another tool is the incorporation of discharge checklists, although a checklist should not be used as a replacement for proper training and competence. Nurses and pharmacists play key roles in ensuring there is a smooth transition of care from the hospital to the patient’s home by providing timely communication and information on medication safety.

Seek assistance if your hospital provided poor discharge information

Ideally, patients in New York emergency rooms will receive effective discharge information. However, this does not always happen, especially if hospital staff or procedures are negligent. If you have been harmed due to poor discharge information, you may want to speak to an attorney to learn more about your rights and options.

 

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