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Lilacs & Greensleeves: Prevent Hospital Readmissions

What is a readmission?

“Readmission is a term used when a patient is admitted back to the hospital for in-patient care soon after being discharged.  OPA’s Quality Report Cards use a quality measure of hospital readmissions that occur within 30 days of being discharged for the same or a related medical condition.

Unfortunately, hospital readmissions occur far too often and can lead to more serious health problems. The good news is that many readmissions can be prevented with proper treatment planning and follow-up. Patients can do their part to prevent readmission by following their care plan, tracking their medicines, and keeping follow-up appointments.

Why is it important to prevent a readmission?

Both your health and finances are put further at risk if you face a hospital readmission. Each time you are admitted to the hospital, you probably will have to pay a deductible or another co-payment.  In addition to the cost of the hospital care, the delay in recovery from your illness can postpone your return to work.

What can be done to prevent a readmission?

Many return hospital visits could be prevented if patients, caregivers and hospital staff plan ahead for the day the patient leaves the hospital. There are key things you can do:

  • Ask questions: Make sure you understand the information given to you by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.  Repeat their instructions to make sure you understand them. It is also helpful to have a family member or friend with you to take notes.
  • Have a discharge plan (also called a care plan): Before being discharged from the hospital, make sure the doctor, nurse or other hospital staff gives you a detailed written plan that includes:
    • A list of your medical problems.Know your diagnosis, potential complications, and who to call if you need assistance.
    • A schedule of follow-up appointments. See your primary care doctor or specialist as directed.
    • A list of your medications with clear written instructions about when to take them and for how long, as well as any possible side effects.
    • A list of equipment you might need, such as wheelchair or hospital bed.
    • A list of recommended home modifications, such as grab bars in the bathroom. Try to make these changes to your home before you leave the hospital.
    • A list of any activities to avoid and for how long.
    • If your hospital does not give you a discharge plan, you can use this discharge checklist to help you ask questions of the hospital staff.
  • Create a support team to help you at home: Have a family member, friend and/or other caregiver help you at home with meals, medications, personal hygiene and other necessary care.
  • Know what to do if you don’t feel well: Know the danger signs for your condition and what you will do if your symptoms get worse. Know who to call during the day, at night and on weekends.
  • Follow up with your regular doctor and specialists: Make sure your doctors know about any changes in your health. Bring your care plan to each doctor’s appointment, along with your new prescriptions and a list of all of your prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and other supplements.”

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Written by

Deb is our own Deborah McSherry, experienced nurse and caregiver extraordinaire. Deb has been with Care4You since 2009.