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December 8, 2012

From the Office: How to transition successfully from hospital to home


If your hospitalization isn’t preplanned, you or you family should start thinking about your discharge as soon as you can. While you are in the hospital, be sure that someone is communicating with the hospital staff and your doctor. There will most likely be a nurse or a social worker who will have primary responsibility for helping to arrange your discharge. You and or your family should share any concerns and make sure you keep a list of questions that you would like to have answered before you go home.

Sometimes special equipment or supplies will be needed either on a temporary or long-term basis. Hospital staff will be able to help you determine if your insurance will pay for these items and where you can get them. If you need something such as a walker, shower chair or commode on a short-term basis, you may be able to borrow these from a friend or a community organization that maintains a loan closet.

There may be some tasks that you or your caregiver will need to learn. If you are uncomfortable with these tasks it is important to share that with hospital staff. If you don’t feel that you have mastered the task by the time to go home, ask if there is a community agency that could continue to provide instructions at home.

Upon discharge you may find that you need to take additional or different medications. This can sometimes be a challenge, particularly when it changes your routine. If you are used to taking pills in the morning and before bed and now you have to take something every six hours, you may need some help managing until you no longer need to take them or you’ve adjusted to the new routine. Everyone should consider a pill box that you can pre-fill with the correct medications. That way you can check to see if you’ve taken your pills correctly or know if you’ve missed a dose. If you need reminders and there is no one there to give them you could explore an electronic medication dispenser.

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