A healthcare situation that requires a trip to the hospital can be an anxiety-inducing, stressful time for families. It’s only natural that everyone focuses on the medical treatment and doesn’t give much thought to hospital discharge planning.
But how people plan for what happens when they leave the hospital after discharge plays an important role in their health going forward. Over the years, experts have learned that better hospital discharge planning leads to better health outcomes.
Everyone plays a role in hospital discharge planning. This includes patients, family, caregivers and healthcare providers. The following looks at some of the key points when you leave the hospital after discharge. All are important factors to consider for hospital discharge planning.
What Happens When You Get Discharged From a Hospital?
Only a doctor can authorize a patient to get released from the hospital. In most hospitals, a hospital worker meets with patients and family to deliver discharge instructions. This could be a social worker, nurse, case manager or other healthcare professional. They will go over information they need to make the transition home. They show patients paperwork that lists all the procedures and treatments received. Patients need to verify the accuracy of the information, because it’s what they base a hospital bill on.
What Is Hospital Discharge Planning?
Hospital discharge planning involves a process for making a plan in advance on all the issues involved in transitioning from the hospital to home. For the hospital, discharge involves a team approach. That should also be the case with patients.
Hospital discharge planning typically breaks down into the following three major areas.
When meeting with the hospital discharge planner, it’s important to have questions ready. Some of the typical questions patients need answered include:
- What’s my medical condition status?
- When do I need to see the doctor again?
- What are the details on the medication I am taking once I get home?
- How do I operate any equipment I need (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.)?
- How active can I be after discharge, or how long should I wait to be active after discharge?
Patients either transition to their home or to another care facility. In either case, safe transportation is needed. Some prefer turning to professional non-emergency medical transport such as Flying Angels to handle these trips. They provide experienced nurses to travel with patients and ensure they receive quality medical care as they transition out of the hospital.
Help at Home
Another key issue for patients is planning for care once they get back home. Some of the common needs include cleaning the house, cooking, shopping, laundry, personal care if needed (such as help with bathing and dressing), emotional care and healthcare (such as managing medications). Hospital representatives should have information about government-funded services and non-profit organizations that can help with such services. Family and friends can also help track down different services.
If a patient thinks they will need to hire services, don’t wait until the last minute and make a hasty decision. Prices and level of service vary greatly in this area. It’s important to take some time and look around for the best choice to fit your circumstances. Planning on these key issues can give patients a level of comfort they need as they prepare to transition back home. Patients do well to take the initiative and plan ahead. That ensures they make a safe and healthy transition when they leave the hospital after discharge.
Hospital discharge transportation involves the methods used to transport a patient from the hospital to their home, a rehabilitation center, nursing home or other care facility. How hospitals and patients handle hospital discharge transportation is a key element to the success of overall medical treatment.
It’s an issue that all healthcare providers address. Hospital discharge transportation is seen as part of a comprehensive approach to patient care. That applies whether the patient needs medical transportation home or to another facility.
In some cases, transportation may involve having to fly commercial after surgery. This happens when patients are injured while on business travel or vacation. It also is necessary for those who must fly to get care from a specialist surgeon.
Why Discharge Planning Is Important
Medical professionals put a great deal of focus on discharge planning process because transportation from a care facility is a time when people are vulnerable. Every detail of hospital discharge transportation focuses on patient safety, including medical transportation home.
Also, effective discharge lowers the chance of a patient returning to the hospital because patients and their families are prepared for the transition. That’s why addressing the patient’s traveling requirements is critical.
In situations where flying is involved, hiring a non-emergency medical transport service is often the right move. They provide service that includes making all travel arrangements, including ground transportation, navigating the airport and flight reservations.
They also provide a flight nurse who is certified in aviation physiology and can handle any medical situations that may arise while in the air.
How Discharge Planning Works
When working on discharge planning, medical staff find the best way to provide a smooth transition from one facility to another, or to the patient’s home. Only doctors can authorize discharge from a hospital. However, social workers, case managers or nurses often oversee discharge planning.
According to the National Center on Caregiving (NCC), discharge planning revolves around the following issues.
- Evaluation. Qualified personnel evaluate the patient’s condition.
- Discussion. A patient or her representative discuss discharge with qualified personnel
- Planning. Plan revolves around either going home or to another institution.
- Determining. Qualified personnel determine whether the patient’s caregiver needs training or other support
- Referrals. The medical facility refers the patient to the appropriate support service, such as a home health agency
- Follow up. Discharge planning also involves making arrangements for follow-up appointments or tests for the patient.
Many medical facilities continue to work in this critical area, so it’s important for patients to know their options and the challenges involved with discharge. For example, research reported by the NCC indicates about 40% of patients over the age of 65 had medication errors upon release from the hospital. Also, about 18% of Medicare patients discharged from hospitals are readmitted within 30 days. Those numbers underscore the importance of hospital discharge transportation. For patients who know they have an upcoming hospital stay, all options – including non-emergency medical transportation – should be investigated.
Having to go to the hospital is a stressful experience. But while it’s a great relief when the doctor discharges you, it’s important to have a plan in place that ensures you have safe transportation from hospital to home.
Medical professionals put a great deal of importance on this step of the process. They create individualized plans to maximize a patient’s chances of improving their health once they return home. When planning hospital discharge transportation, there are some important factors to keep in mind.
Before You Get Discharged
Before you leave the hospital, medical staff develop a plan to make the transition from the hospital to home as smooth as possible. They evaluate a patient’s condition, refer the patient to needed healthcare and make arrangements for follow-up appointments.
About 18 percent of all Medicare patients end up returning to the hospital in 30 days. A good place to start in avoiding that outcome is arranging transportation home that will provide the care you need in transit. That applies whether you are getting driven home or must fly home from your current location.
Medical professionals give so much attention to a patient’s transition out of a hospital because data has shown this is a crucial time that will impact how well a patient recovers after receiving treatment.
The Importance of Hospital to Home Transportation
Everyone – the patient, their caregivers and medical staff – focus on medical treatment when a person arrives at a hospital. It’s often only at the last minute that caregivers and the patient think about transportation from hospital to home. However, it’s important to give the issue thorough consideration.
Family Caregiver Alliance writes that how transportation from hospital to home is handled “is critical to the health and well-being of your loved one. Studies have found that improvements in hospital discharge planning can dramatically improve the outcome for patients as they move to the next level of care.”
This also applies if a patient is traveling from home to another medical care facility, such as a nursing home. Those who have limited physical abilities due to injury, illness or chronic condition also will need transportation to future medical appointments required by doctors.
Arranging Transportation From Hospital to Home
If you’re discharged from a hospital but remain wheelchair-bound or otherwise physically incapacitated, then it’s important to have transportation arranged from the hospital through a non-emergency transportation (NEMT) company.
Transporting a patient home is a highly choreographed operation involving many parties. NEMT coordinators work with hospital Cases Managers or Social Workers, who interface with Doctors, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, on how to safely transition a patient from the hospital to home. Transitioning to home may also involve coordinating with a patient’s Care Manager who coordinates the needs of the patient once they are home. The goal is to not simply take a patient from one location to another but to make sure that the needs of the patient are met during the transport and that appropriate resources are in place when the patient gets home.
NEMT companies have experience traveling both in ground and air transit with patients who want a medical professional with them. They also frequently manage transportation from hospital to home and will know how to work with hospital medical staff to ensure they meet all of a patient’s needs.
Flying Angels provides medical transport services worldwide. Learn how commercial airline flight nurses can support you & your family.