By Peter Kates

About one in ten patients discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“For planned hospital admissions, preparation and patient education prior to a scheduled stay can reduce the need to return to the hospital soon after discharge,” says Ankit Garg, MD, vice president of medical affairs at Univera Healthcare. He offers the following tips.

Prior to Your Hospital Admission for a Planned Procedure

  • Make a list of important questions to ask, including if you’ll need special equipment, supplies, or supervision once you return home.
  • Document all medications you use, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements, and write down any allergies you have.
  • Be sure to eliminate tripping hazards in your home so you can move around safely as you recover.

During Your Hospital Stay

  • When in the hospital, ask lots of questions, and make sure a family member or caregiver is present and understands the answers. It is also good practice to wash your hands often.

Before Returning Home from the Hospital

  • Talk to a discharge planner to ensure a smooth transition to your home or other location, and have a family member or caregiver listen in so you don’t miss important details.
  • Confirm any new medications prescribed and arrange to pick them up or have them delivered. Ask for detailed instructions on when and how to take them, and what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Clarify any restrictions concerning diet and physical activity, and get comfortable using any durable medical equipment that will be sent home with you. You’ll need to know who to contact if you have questions or concerns, so be sure to get their phone numbers for both daytime and after-business hours.
  • Make a follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor and/or specialist for seven days after discharge and let them know it is a follow-up appointment to a recent hospital stay. Bring a copy of your discharge instructions and medication list to the visit.

Once you are home from the hospital

  • Take all medications as directed, and follow all instructions about physical activity, diet, and alcohol consumption.
  • Keep a family member, friend, or caregiver informed about your hospital visit and your overall health status, and call your doctor’s office right away if you aren’t feeling well.

Dr. Garg says, “Your health insurer may offer the support of a case manager to help individuals recovering at home, or those with complex needs, better navigate the health care system. To see if this is part of your coverage, call the customer care phone number on your health insurance member ID card.”

Peter Kates is Vice President of Communications at Univera Healthcare.