Extended hospital stays are less and less common today. Factors such as innovations in health care that speed recovery, pressure from insurance companies to keep costs down, and availability of online procedures and tests have considerably shortened hospitals’ stays.
Most patients are discharged from the hospital when they are clinically stable and ready to continue recovery at home or in other facilities (rehab, nursing home, etc.); however, many patients are discharged from the hospital before they are ready to go. The more unstable people are when they leave the hospital, the greater are chances that they will need to come back, or, unfortunately, die.
While health providers should monitor your unstable vital signs, you should also pay attention to any undiagnosed symptoms and consider some critical questions such as: “Am I able to take self-administer medications?” “Am I able to take care of my basic needs?” “Do I have any new symptoms?” “Do I have uncontrolled pains?”
If you are unsure whether you should go home, most likely, you shouldn’t. If you feel anxious about leaving the hospital, take a few steps before discharge.
You need to have an understanding of the next steps after you leave the hospital. “Will I need in-home care?” “How will I find a caregiver?” “Am I able to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, or getting around independently?” “What type of care will I need after I am discharged from the hospital?”
If your discharge is complex, ask for a care meeting before you leave the hospital, as this is an excellent opportunity to address your concerns and ask questions. A care meeting can help clarify what is going on and what kind of support you will need after the discharge
If you feel for any reason that you are being discharged too early from the hospital, share reasons why you need to stay and inform the medical team in writing why you disagree with early discharge.
Make sure you have answers to all your questions before you leave the hospital. If you need 24-hour care, you may have to go to a nursing home or seek home health care.
Home health care involves medical care that you receive at your home. Home health care covers various health care services that you can receive for an illness or injury after leaving the hospital. While home health care’s primary goal is to help you with a disease or injury, home health care also aims to help you live independently for as long as possible.