Why is hospital discharge planning so important for a successful recovery? The following example is one of many that happen frequently in hospitals.

A patient had parathyroid surgery. The parathyroid gland regulates calcium in the blood. A known side effect of this surgery is hypocalcemia, low calcium level in the blood.

The patient was discharged from the hospital without calcium supplements or instructions on potential complications and symptoms if a low calcium level develops. She returned to the hospital emergency room when her calcium level caused severe hypocalcemia symptoms. She was given excessive daily dosages of calcium and retained in the hospital until her condition stabilized. She was discharged from the hospital. Similar to her first hospital discharge, she was not given instructions on potential side effects. More importantly, her increased daily dosage of calcium was not reduced upon discharge. She went home continuing to take excess amounts of calcium for many weeks. She returned to the hospital again when the increased calcium levels caused hypercalcemia symptoms which included kidney damage and several of her teeth fell out!

75% of hospital readmissions are preventable. Most of these are drug events which are preventable. Unfortunately, there is a breakdown of communication between medical providers, home health staff, nursing homes, family members and the patient. Medicine reconciliation is critical when you are discharged from the hospital. Typically, when you are admitted to the hospital your prescription drugs will change based on what the hospital uses. It is important for your health safety to reconcile your medications upon discharge to ensure that duplication and adverse side effects do not occur.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recognizes this serious, yet common problem in hospitals and has addressed it by funding Project RED, Re-Engineered Discharge. Currently, approximately 250 hospitals are participating with more to follow. The program helps hospitals to educate patients on self-care and to improve hospital discharge communication to reduce overall hospital readmission. The program was initially developed by Boston University Medical Center to help solve their own discharge planning problems.

Common questions addressed in successful discharge planning include:

What should I eat?
What activities or foods should I avoid?
Where is my pharmacy?
What is my medical problem?
What are my medication allergies?
What medicines do I need to take? Why am I taking them? How much do I take?
How do I take this medicine?
When are my next appointments?
Questions for my next appointments

Remember, if you are a Medicare beneficiary and you do not feel that you are ready to be discharged or the post-discharge planning is not acceptable to you, you can appeal the decision. http://www.lifelongwellnessadvocates.com/are-you-being-discharged-from-the-hospital-too-soon/