Your hospital discharge checklist
Posted on 26 August 2015
As nice as the nurses are, and as good as the food tastes, most patients will agree: the best part about going to hospital is leaving to go home. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you’re discharged safely and smoothly.
Every hospital visit is different, so every discharge will be different too. ‘At Mediclinic we have an Advice Sheet we give to our out patients, with a different sheet for each illness or problem,’ says Sandra Beukes, a nursing practitioner at Mediclinic Hermanus. Some things are the same, though – so here’s a basic checklist to go with the one you’ll get from the nurses.
#1: Ask the question: what’s next?
Ask the hospital staff about your health condition and get a clear idea of what you can do to help yourself get better. Ask about possible problems that could crop up during your recovery.
#2. Know what to do if something goes wrong
What if your stitches come loose? What if you fall, or injure yourself again while you’re recovering? What if your meds don’t agree with you? For your own good health and peace of mind you’ll need answers to these questions. Get them from the trained medical staff at the hospital before you leave. You’ll also want to get someone to monitor your post-discharge recovery, which brings us to…
#3. Set a follow-up appointment
Think of it as after-sales service… only, instead of getting a check-up for your car, it’s your body that’s getting a once-over. Schedule a follow-up with your doctor to make sure your recovery is going as planned – the hospital staff will help with that. ‘For each patient, we make sure that either we set their follow-up appointment or that they have the correct contact numbers to make the appointment themselves,’ says Sandra.
#4. Put your support in place
Make sure you have adequate support, like a caregiver or a friend or family member to help you on your road to recovery. This checklist item is fairly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about it. For instance: How are you going to get home from hospital? Are you fit enough to drive yourself? If not, make sure you have someone who’ll help you look after yourself.
#5. Get your meds
One last thing before you walk out of those hospital doors. No matter why you’ve been in hospital – whether it’s for an minor emergency or a major surgery – the doctor will probably put you on medication to help your body recover. ‘Finally, we make sure the patient has their discharge prescription,’ says Sandra. ‘If they need medication, we’ll tell them where and how to get it, and then we’ll explain how to take it and what the side effects might be.’