Avoiding Hospital Readmission: Follow Up With Your Primary Care Doctor

Your primary care doctor knows you and your medical history better than anyone else.  It’s important that you make time to you see your doctor as soon as possible once you’ve been discharged from the hospital.  Kaiser Southern California studied over 100,000 hospital readmissions and found that seniors were three times more likely to be readmitted for preventable problems if they didn’t have a follow-up visit with their primary care doctor after leaving the hospital.

When you leave the hospital, make sure you know which doctor will be overseeing your care after discharge, and get a copy of your discharge summary.  Ask the social worker or the geriatric care manager to help you schedule a visit with your primary care doctor within a week from your date of discharge.  If it is difficult for you to get to your doctor, your home care provider or a medical transport service will be able to help with transportation.  Many public transit systems also offer accessibility services.

Your primary care doctor can address concerns about symptoms and will help catch any complications before they get out of hand.  They will be able to tell you whether symptoms are a normal part of recovery, or if there is a problem that needs immediate attention.  This is especially important with complex procedures like heart surgery.

When you go, bring a copy of your hospital discharge summary with you and give it to your doctor.  Make sure they go over your list of medications and any care that you will need at home.  If the doctor makes any changes to your medications or to your care plan, make sure you get a copy and that your home care provider and your care manager also get copies.

Before you leave, remember to ask about options for after-hours care.