Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't go back to the hospital--no no no

Hospitals are being penalized if Medicare patients have to come back, so they are paying a little more attention to discharge instructions. That is the sheaf of paperwork they hand you after about two hours of interminable waiting to leave.

Mary Donovan-Johnson, DNP, program director of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program at Columbia Univ School of Nursing, has some commonsense reminders on how to leave the hospital behind for good.

First, discharges are often rushed when they do get around to you--the staff (I have found) are looking forward to bringing someone up from the ER or something, and instructions can be hasty.

Don't be shy--ask them to repeat and repeat. Ask the person who came to get you to take notes.

Get everything in writing! Wound care, medications, diet...everything!

Once you get home, follow instructions carefully. If you took the same drugs before going in, the doses may be different. Check! If they gave you new drugs in the hospital, see if you should take the old AND the new, or only the new.

Keep followup appointments and get all lab tests they recommend.

Some of the wound care they expect you to do these days is pretty yucky--be sure you know the drill. I once had to put dried seaweed packing in a wound my daughter had for six whole months! That was fun.

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