Avoiding Hospital Readmission: Understanding The Care Plan

Just before you are discharged from the hospital, your doctors will visit you to go over your plan of care.  It’s important to make sure you understand your care plan before you leave the hospital, but it can be very confusing when you are just starting to recover from an illness.  It always helps to have a second pair of eyes, so ask a family member or friend to help you through the discharge process: they can take notes for you and ask questions.

If there is anything on your discharge plan that doesn’t seem to make sense, don’t be afraid to ask about it.  We had a patient once whose discharge sheet said that he needed to be on a low-salt diet and on salt pills, and no one caught it until the home care nurse came to do an assessment and called the patient’s primary care doctor.

If you’ve already left the hospital, your follow-up visit with your primary care provider is a great opportunity to clarify anything you don’t understand on your care plan.  The care plan is part of your clinical records, so your primary care doctor will be able to get access to it and help you with anything you don’t understand.

When you get home, make sure the care plan is posted somewhere where it is easy for you, your family, and your caregivers to see.  Familiarize the family with any special instructions, and ask someone to help you post reminders for yourself wherever you store your medications.