5 Ways to Prevent a Return Trip to the Hospital

Kristine Waldron, RN, Director, Case Management shares important ways discharged patients can prevent another trip to the hospital.

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.

When you leave the hospital, we'll strive to make it a smooth transition. We ask that you help us by doing the following:

1. Make sure you understand your condition. 
Be sure to 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

Ask your doctor and your nurse any questions you may have about your recent illness. When the nurse is reviewing your discharge instructions with you on your day of discharge, read each area on the instruction list which will include your diet expectations, activity level, when you should see a Medical Provider post discharge and who to call if you have questions once you are discharged.

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.

2. Review your medications.
At time of discharge your nurse will complete a medication reconciliation with you as part of your discharge instructions. This is a great time to ask any questions about the new medications you may have been prescribed. Remember to always take the time to speak to the Pharmacist when you pick up your prescriptions so they can answer any further questions you may have.  Be proactive and keep a list of the medications you are taking and update it each time you get a new prescription. Handy items to have are pill box organizers to help you take your pills each day. Also, if you often forget to take one of your medications, purchase a small pill box that you can keep with you at all times so you never miss a dose. 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.

3.  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 are necessary for monitoring your progress and keeping you well.

Your Doctor may include in your discharge instructions follow-up medical appointments and additional testing, make the arrangements on the first day you get home. Studies show that patients who see their Primary Care Doctor (PCP) within seven days of discharge from the hospital are less likely to readmit. When you call to make an appointment with you PCP and/or a specialist, explain to the person taking your call that you have been in the Hospital and this is a post-hospitalization appointment.

4. Speak up if you need help when you get home.
Each Patient that is admitted to Medical Center of McKinney has an assigned social worker and RN case manager that can assist  you in meeting your needs post-hospitalization.  Let your nurse know that you would like to see your social worker and or case manager to assist you with concerns and or needs you may have.

5. 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. 

Medical Center of McKinney is here as an important resource as you recover from a medical condition or injury. Visit our online Health Library for wellness and prevention tips and more. Do you need a physician referral? Use our online Find a Physician service or call our Physician Referral Line at 1-855-296-6265.

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