Preparing for hospitalization

preparing for hospitalization

Being well prepared for any hospital admission — planned or emergency — can reduce some of the worries it may cause.

Medical history and prescriptions: Keep medical history updated, including contact information for all doctors, as well as current prescription information. This will help the hospital staff to quickly take the needed steps to care for an loved one.

Consent form: Every hospital requires a patient to review and sign a consent form. This consent form lists risks for the recommended treatment or procedure, and permits the hospital to treat the patient. If your loved one isn’t able to give informed consent, then another person needs to be chosen to make medical decisions on his or her behalf, such as a family member or friend. This person is usually referred to as a healthcare proxy or agent. Even if someone is chosen as a healthcare proxy, efforts should be made to ask the patient about his or her wishes about treatment.

Discharge planning: If you have a loved one in the hospital, you’ll need to look out for their welfare. As soon as his or her condition has stabilized, the hospital begins discharge planning. Different health plans have different rules for how long a patient can be in the hospital for each kind of condition. You’ll want to work with a social worker or other hospital staff member to plan for what comes next. If you don’t think your loved one is ready to be discharged, you should talk to the doctor, nurse, or someone else who understands the patient’s condition and can help. Discharge planning usually includes:

  • Ordering medical equipment (Be sure someone will be home to receive delivery of the equipment.)
  • Finding a nursing home or assisted living facility of your choice
  • Finding a physical therapy facility for short-term rehabilitation
  • Arranging home care or hospice services
  • Talking about what may be covered by Medicare and/or other insurance

Returning home: As your loved one gets ready to return home, it’s important that you keep working closely with doctors and the other hospital staff.

It’s usually not a good idea for patients to leave the hospital if they’ve not been cleared to do so by a doctor. When a patient signs out of the hospital against medical advice, he or she will not receive a formal discharge from the doctor or any follow-up appointments, discharge orders, or prescriptions for medications.