Preparing for Hospital Discharge


Being discharged from the hospital is a stressful time for both patients and families.  It can be hard to know what to expect and what questions you need to ask your doctors.  Having a plan for hospital discharge is important for making a smooth transition back home and can help provide order in a chaotic time.

Begin planning for discharge as soon as possible once you or your loved one has been admitted to the hospital.  Talk to your doctors, the social worker, or a geriatric care manager as soon as you can.

  • PT evaluation: can you get out of bed by yourself? Walk across a room or use the stairs?
  • Nutritionist: what can you eat? Do you need to make any long- or short-term changes?
  • Will you go home, or to a rehab facility?  If you’re going home, find out what equipment will you need.

Before being discharged, make sure you are able to perform care needed at home.  Make sure to meet with a social worker to discuss the balance between care and family life, and whether or not you might need a caregiver.  Ask your doctor about expectations for recovery and make sure you understand all your test results.

When you or your loved one is discharged:

  • go over the full list of medications, both OTC and prescription.
  • check on any in-home equipment you may have ordered.
  • if you will require home care, make sure it is in place.
  • get the contact info for your doctor, the hospital social worker, and a medical supply company.
  • get a copy of medical records and make sure the hospital has forwarded your records to your primary care doctor.
  • if possible, schedule any follow-up appointments now.

If you feel that you are being discharged from the hospital too early, it is possible to appeal your discharge.  For patients with private insurance the appeal process varies from hospital to hospital.  If you are on Medicare, there is a universal appeal procedure through your local Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization