Having to stay in the hospital is probably not your idea of a good time. And when you’re discharged, chances are you don’t want to return. It’s nice to have skilled, compassionate care you can depend on when you need it. But staying healthy — and avoiding a return trip to the hospital — is everyone’s preference, and it’s what we want for you, too.
Unfortunately, a significant percentage of people discharged from hospitals nationwide are readmitted within 30 days, which is why reducing readmission rates is a goal of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a goal we take seriously at our hospital. But it’s one that we need your help to achieve.
When you leave the hospital, we’ll strive to make it a smooth transition. We ask that you help us by doing the following:
— Make sure you understand your condition. Ask what you should do to help yourself get better; what — if any — limitations you now have; what potential problems you should watch for; what to do if problems occur. If you’ll be handling certain medical tasks on your own or with the help of a family caregiver — things like changing a dressing, for instance — ask a member of the hospital staff to go over the procedure with you until you’re comfortable with it.
— Review your medications. Ask if you should continue taking everything you were taking before you were admitted and if any new medications have been prescribed. If you do need to take some new ones, be sure you know when and how to take them, how much to take, and for how long. Also, be sure you understand why you’re taking the new medicines. It’s a good idea to keep a list of all your medications. That list — or other tools ranging from simple pillboxes to more high-tech gadgets — can help ensure you take your medicines correctly.
— Keep your medical appointments. Often follow-up tests or doctor visits are scheduled before you leave the hospital. It’s essential that you keep them. They’re necessary for monitoring your progress and keeping you well.
— Speak up if you need help. Can you bathe and dress yourself and cook your meals? If you have concerns about your ability to handle these and other tasks, don’t hesitate to say so. We can arrange to get you some help. If you’re worried about things like paying for your medications or getting transportation to your doctor visits, mention that as well.
— Get a name and number. You may have questions or concerns after leaving the hospital. Be sure you’re clear about whom to call for answers.
We’re confident that by working together, we can help keep you healthy and out of the hospital as much as possible, which will help lower health care costs for everyone.
Amanda Crabtree is the public relations coordinator for Southeastern Health. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.