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Post-Discharge Tool for Patients

Frequently Asked Questions

Download the Post-Discharge Tool [PDF format]

Q: What is the post-discharge tool?

A: The post-discharge tool was created to help patients and families take action to keep the patient’s recovery on track. The tool’s main focus is to keep patients out of the hospital. One way to do this is to make sure patients follow their care plan, and this tool can help. The NPSF post-discharge tool was written by health care professionals to help patients take the important steps to stay on the road to recovery.

Q: Who needs the post-discharge tool and why?

A: Mostly, the tool is meant to be used by people who are getting out of the hospital. It was created to help patients avoid readmission. A readmission means being admitted to the hospital within 30 days of getting out of the hospital for the same condition. Unfortunately, hospital readmissions occur far too often. The good news is that many are preventable with proper treatment planning and follow-up. The post-discharge tool contains important information that can be useful to all, because being admitted to the hospital can happen to anyone.

Q: What do I need to do before I am discharged from the hospital?

A: Before being discharged from the hospital, make sure your doctor or nurse gives you the information you need to carry out your care plan.

Before being discharged from the hospital, make sure you understand how to care for yourself at home.

  • Learn what potential complications may happen, whom you should call if they should arise, and when to make that call.
  • Familiarize yourself with the warning signs and symptoms that you must let your doctor know about immediately.
  • If you are prescribed any medications, make sure you understand what they are and what they do, as well as the instructions for when and how to take each one.
  • Make sure to ask if your post-discharge medications are any different than they were before admission and why.
  • Ask if you have any activity restrictions (and if so, for how long) or if you should be making any modifications to your meals.
  • Ask your providers any questions you may have and if anything is unclear to you, do not hesitate to get clarification.

Q: What can I do to prevent myself from needing to be readmitted?

A: There are many things you can do to try to stay out of the hospital. Ask your family or friends to help with these if you need it.

  • Make sure you fully understand your condition and your discharge instructions, and follow them exactly.
  • Educate yourself as much as possible about any medications or services you may require.
  • Arrange for the support and follow-up care you may need upon arriving home.
  • Order any equipment or supplies you may need and make sure to stay on top of your medication needs, calling in refills far enough in advance so that you do not run out prematurely and miss a dose.
  • If you had surgery, learn how to dress and care for your surgical wound.

Q: What can I do to prevent infections?

A: Until you recover fully, your body may not be able to fight infections as strongly as before. You may be at increased risk for illness and infection. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this:

  • Avoid others who are sick.
  • Make sure you wash your hands often and encourage others you are in close contact with to do the same.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep to recover.
  • If you have had surgery, learn how to properly care for and keep clean your surgical site.

Q: What else do I need to know?

A: If you have not already scheduled your follow-up appointments, do so as soon as possible. Follow-up visits are spaced at certain intervals for a reason, and it is important a medical professional see you within each time period. Rescheduling an appointment often delays the process. Even if you feel fine and seem to be recuperating successfully, having your recovery progress assessed by a professional can help you avoid setbacks.

  • It is important to take medications as directed and keep a current and up-to-date list of all medications you are taking, even the over-the-counter and herbal kinds. Bring this list with you to all appointments and include on it, any allergies you have or adverse reactions you have had to medications. Let your provider know if you are experiencing any issues with any current medications. It is also important to follow all activity and dietary plans post-discharge.
  • Keeping a medical journal can be helpful. Use a journal to keep track of any physical, emotional, or personal events that may relate to your health and well-being. This may help you and your provider to better understand your condition and customize a health plan that is right for you.
  • It is not unusual to forget to ask a question or address an issue in a doctor’s office, so write things down before your appointment and help you remember.
  • You must talk to your providers about your health care and your condition. Tell your primary care physician and other providers that you were admitted to a hospital. Ask your providers if they have received all of your tests and medical reports. Do not assume that any single doctor or nurse knows everything about you. Help them by sharing information they may not have.