5 Steps to Help Avoid Hospital Readmission
When an older adult gets admitted to the hospital for surgery, a fall, or illness, the process of what happens after the hospitalization becomes somewhat frightening to many. They are trying to deal with pain or medications that cause nausea, while trying to understand what they need to do when they go home or to a skilled nursing care facility. When things go wrong, it becomes a perpetual circle of the “blame game.” How can we avoid rehospitalization and heal from a hospital stay? There is no magical one answer, but there are several things you as a caring adult child and the patient can do to avoid rehospitalization.
- Make Sure You have Spoken with your Doctor Before Leaving the Hospital. Depending on why you were hospitalized, sometimes your regular doctor does not even know you are in the hospital. It is important to see your doctor before you leave the hospital to discuss your best avenues for healing. You should also see your primary doctor after you leave the hospital for follow-up treatment.
- Make Sure You and a Loved One Hear the Instructions When Leaving the Hospital it is so important for more than just the patient to hear all the post-hospitalization care. Oftentimes the directions can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Sometimes the patient thinks they will remember everything, and only to find out later they do not. It is important to understand when to take medications, how much to take and how to take them. With many directions and usually more than one medication, it is important to have them written down. Also remember when you get new medications, you need to know if you are to continue medications you have at home. Do you need to stop the old medications or change how you take them? These are important questions to ask. Having a trusted family member or friend to listen and take notes or ask questions will help the patient stay on track for post care and help avoid readmission.
- Establish effective communications between patient, family, provider, hospital and or skilled nursing facility before the patient leaves the hospital. Once the patient leaves the hospital does not mean the hospital or primary doctor forgets about them. The doctor needs to check back with the patient and family to make sure they are progressing in the healing process. The primary care doctor and hospital should ask question about healing, medications, and any discomforts regularly to help avoid issues or readmission to the hospital. It is important to have a good relationship and check-in to make sure they are following post-hospital care.
- Schedule all follow up appointments before you leave the hospital. Often many patients get anxious and ready to move on to the next stage of recovery whether it be at home or to a skilled nursing facility. When you are rehabilitating post surgery, you do not want to forget to schedule follow up appointments and this could cause problems that could lead to readmission. You need to make sure all your provider follow-up appointments are scheduled and then you most likely won’t miss things like fever, infection or another problem that could be fixed to avoid readmission. Your skilled nursing facility will do this for you and they will make sure your care is the best to recovery to avoid readmission.
- Develop a partnership with your healthcare team. Having doctors, family, and your skilled nursing facility all on the same page for your care is most vital for healing and helping to avoid readmission. You need to make sure that all information is readily available to the whole healthcare team to keep your post-hospital healing progressing positively. It is important for you to ask questions and keep informed on the recovery process so you know what to expect and how long your recovery will take. Communicate what your expectations and goals are to your entire team, therefore what you want to do and what you should be doing is the same. Your whole team will help you reach your recovery goals if you all communicate and stay up to date on what is going on with the healing process.