There is something worse than being in the hospital: being readmitted after you've been discharged.
According to an article published by the NCBI, nearly 20% of all Medicare discharges had a readmission within 30 days, and 12% of re-admissions are potentially avoidable. An observation to consider is "potentially avoidable" means that you and your caregivers can diminish or eliminate the need for re-hospitalization by following your aftercare instructions from the medical team. Give yourself enough time and rest to fully recuperate before you jump back into your pre-hosptialization lifestyle.
Although medical professionals take appropriate precautions to help patients avoid post-hospital readmission, here are five steps that you can take to avoid having to be readmitted after a hospital stay.
- Clear Communication – Discharge instructions may not be 100% clear to everyone leaving the hospital. Medical professionals typically take time to communicate after-care instructions and provide pamphlets and other literature about how to best care for yourself. However, the communication may not be clear enough. Be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand something or ask for written instructions if they are not provided. Language barriers can pose a problem for people as well. People with limited English proficiency are more likely to be readmitted after a hospital stay. Using an interpreter can help avoid a post-hospital readmission.
- Home Preparations – Hospital environments are prepped for ease and convenience to limit the risk of injury and illness. Home environments are not always ready to provide the same. Taking some small (or large) steps can help decrease the risk of a return hospital visit. Clearing clutter can decrease the risk of falls and trips, moving the patient from an upstairs room to a downstairs room can help them move more easily around the home, installing non-slip pads and grips in a bathroom can reduce bathroom injuries, and keeping phones in easily accessible locations can make it easier to call for help if necessary.
- Don’t Miss Appointments – Follow up appointments are necessary to make sure that recovery is happening the way that it should. Avoidable illnesses and infections can be caught early on during post-hospital check-ups and curb a major health problem. Also, prescribed medications should always be taken as prescribed. Missing doses or taking too much could result in further complications.
- After-Care Monitoring – A good support system and after-care monitoring can help resolve health issues quickly. Early intervention of illnesses, infections, and even side-effects of medication lower the risk of being readmitted to a hospital. Many people rely on family and/or friends to care for them after a hospital stay. Others are more dependent on staff inside a senior care facility. Either way, it is important that the support system understands what to watch for and how to provide the best support.
Tele-monitoring and tele-communications are great ways to implement health care in the home. With the advancements in technology, patients can more easily communicate and visit with doctors and/or nurses from home to receive medical care as opposed to leaving the home and risking injury. This is an excellent alternative for people who struggle with mobility.
- Hiring In-Home Aides – In-Home Aides are a great addition to support post-hospital stay. These aides provide support in several different ways and can provide absolute care to people who may not have family and friends nearby to help. In-home aides provide many different services like light house cleaning, cooking, shopping, help with general daily care, providing transportation and more. Your unique individual needs can be worked into the support that these aides provide.
A return to the hospital shortly after discharge is a great indication that the patient was not adequately prepared to go home. Taking the necessary steps to prevent post-hospital readmission not only helps individuals recover better and faster, but also reduces financial costs and can reduce the risk of future health concerns. Take time to take care of yourself or your loved ones by making sure communications about after-care are clear and the right level of support is being met.