Fact: 20 to 30 Percent of All Patients End Up Back in the Hospital Within a Month
Often, it’s because they can’t drive to get prescriptions filled or make it to follow-up doctor appointments. Sometimes patients ignore signs of health problems after a hospital stay, hoping they’ll just “go away”. Older people often don’t want to seem like “a bother” to their family.
Medication Mix-Ups Cause Most Problems
A recent Yale study revealed that 3 out of 4 older patients leave the hospital unprepared:
- They receive the wrong prescription.
- They don’t fully understand their new medication regimen.
- They don’t understand what to do about the old prescriptions they have at home.
Medication management is very hard for most patients, not just older adults. Studies say that patients can forget up to 80 percent of what their doctors and nurses tell them, even at discharge. They can wind up back in the hospital after accidental overdoses, failure to take medications properly, or failing to take medications at all.
CaringBridge SupportPlanner Can Help Patients
Most patients need a way to keep all their prescriptions and medical regimens organized. It could be a loved one or friend acting as an advocate, or a calendar to keep all the medications straight and to take them all safely.
Every CaringBridge Site comes complete with an easy-to-use SupportPlanner that can really streamline schedules, to-do’s, and things like medication reminders.
Preventative Tips for Avoiding Round Trips
You can also use it to manage this hospital safety checklist of critical tasks that will prevent another trip to the hospital:
- Being present during discharge to ask questions and take notes.
- Making sure your loved one gets to follow-up doctor visits after discharge.
- Having prescriptions filled.
- Making sure that someone besides the patient knows and is comfortable with every detail of the medication regimen; it may be completely different than the one followed before the hospital stay. During discharge, asking many questions and asking for more time to “get it right” is recommended.
- Helping to put a safe system in place for taking medicines at home. Hospital personnel and the pharmacist can give you ideas. Also, figure out how this system will be monitored, especially if your loved one lives alone.
- Following up on any tests and results that are still outstanding at discharge, and get test reports to the appropriate doctors.
- Making sure the hospital sends all of your loved ones’ records to the primary care doctor and anyone else who needs them.
- Checking in with your loved one every day for at least a month after leaving the hospital to watch for signs of problems.
A long list? Well, it’s tough for someone to manage all these things while trying to recover. Worse yet, imagine your loved one back in a hospital bed with a blood clot, medication overdose, or infection – all common causes of most hospital return trips.
Tell Us How You Prepare for Hospital Stays
We’d love to find out what steps you follow to ensure your loved ones’ health in the hospital and after discharge, or when they’re in another type of medical setting. Please share your insights in our comments section below.