Preparing to Leave a Hospital


June 21, 2023
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Preparing to Leave a Hospital

The following checklist is for patients and their caregivers who are preparing to leave a hospital, nursing home, or other health care setting.

During a stay in a hospital, nursing home, or other health care setting, the staff will work with the patient and their caregiver to plan for discharge. Both the caregiver and the patient are important members of the planning team. (Caregivers are family members or others who will be helping the patient after discharge.)

Below is a checklist of important things one should know to plan for a safe discharge. Make notes and skip any items that do not apply to your unique situation. 

  1. Do you know where the patient will get care and who will be helping the patient after they are discharged?
    For example, their home, with a relative, or another health care setting.
    Ask the staff to explain options and make sure they understand the patient’s wishes.
  2. Do both the patient and the caregiver understand their health condition(s)?
    Ask what is likely to happen with the patient’s health. 
  3. Do both the patient and the caregiver know what problems to watch for and how to handle them?
    Ask what to do and who to call if there are problems. 
  4. Do both the patient and the caregiver know what each of the patient’s prescription drugs do and when they should be taken? 
    Ask about side effects to watch for. Ask who to call if you have questions. Tell the staff what prescription drugs, over-the-counter
    drugs, or supplements the patient was taking before they came to the hospital or other health care setting.
  5. What, if any, medical equipment (like a walker) will be needed?
    Ask who to call if you have questions about equipment.
  6. Which of the following activities will the patient need help with and for how long? 
    – Bathing, dressing, grooming, using the bathroom
    – Shopping for food, making meals, doing housework, paying bills
    – Getting to doctors appointments, picking up prescription drugs
  7. Can the patient do other tasks that require special skill like using medical equipment, changing a bandage, or giving a shot? 
    Ask who to call if help or training is needed. 
  8. Does the caregiver/family member understand what help the patient will need? Is the caregiver/family member able to provide that help? 
    If not, ask the staff to change the discharge plan so both can get the help they need. 
  9. Do you know what doctor or other healthcare provider to call if there are questions or problems?
    Write down their names and telephone numbers.
  10. What appointments and tests will the patient need in the next several weeks? 
     Add known dates, times, and addresses to both the patient and the primary caregiver’s calendar.
  11. Does the patient have written discharge instructions, the list of drugs, and a summary of the patient’s current health status? 
    Bring this information with you to follow-up appointments.
  12. Does the patient understand how much of the prescription drugs, equipment, and services will be covered by insurance and what will have to be paid out of pocket? 
    Ask to speak to a social worker about possible resources to help with insurance or payment. 

Important note: If you have Medicare and feel you are being asked to leave a hospital or other health care setting too soon, you may have the right to ask for a review of the discharge decision by an independent reviewer called a Quality Improvement Organization (QIO). The QIO can explain your appeal rights. To get the number for the QIO in your state, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Source: Tarrant Cares

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
For more resources, subscribe to our free newsletter!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts

After Death Checklist

After Death Checklist

A death leaves behind many details that caregivers must take care of; the funeral must be planned, bank accounts closed, pets re-homed, final bills paid, etc. When someone you love dies, the job of handling those personal and legal details may fall to you. It’s a...

read more