What is Patient Discharge planning all about?

A Guide To Patient Discharge Planning

Stays at the hospital can be difficult and stressful experiences for both the patient and their family. What comes after though, is often even harder. It is important to have a game plan from the start to finish of the patient’s experience and it will likely not end upon their discharge from the hospital. This is why discharge planning is so vital to the health and success of a patient struggling with anything from illness to physical trauma. In order to have a successful discharge plan, one must know everything that goes into it and be thoroughly prepped for the overall experience.

It is important to note that, unless the situation to put the patient in the hospital was a sudden emergency, discharge planning should begin before the patient is admitted. If it is an emergency, you will want to sort out the discharge plan within the first day or two of their stay. In the first 48 hours, a date of discharge should be made. 48 hours before discharge, the plan should be completely put together and thoroughly understood by the patient and their family.


Key steps in discharge planning:

  1. A professional evaluation of the patient should be initiated. The condition should be completely understood by a doctor so that they can best advise what comes next.
  2. The patient’s condition and options should be discussed between the doctor and patient so that both are on the same page and understand the extent of situation.
  3. The patient, family, and doctor should plan for what comes after discharge, whether the patient is going home, to a rehabilitation facility, or to a nursing home.
  4. It is then important to determine if any caregiver training is required of the family or if any additional support will be needed after discharge.
  5. It will need to be determined if referral to any home agency care or community support systems will be necessary, such as physical therapy or support groups.
  6. Arrangements for follow up doctor’s visits and hospital appointments will need to be made to make sure that the patient’s condition will be efficiently checked on by a professional after discharge.



Several important aspects of the discharge planning process:

Be sure that the patient and family are included. Everyone who may be involved in the patient’s recovery process needs to be completely included in planning for their discharge to ensure that the patient receives everything that they need and understands their next steps.

Be fully aware of what’s next. No matter where the patient is going, it is important that the patient and family understand what life will be like after discharge. If they are going home, the patient and family should understand any risks, warning signs, and problems that may occur. No matter the destination, medication and follow up appointments should be understood by patient and family alike. Everyone will want to be aware of the differences in life at nursing homes and rehabilitation centers so that there are no shocks that could interrupt the patient’s recovery.

Understand as much as possible. Both the patient and their family should know everything that they can about the condition as well as the discharge process. The better they understand, the more smoothly and quickly everything will run.

Be heard. If there are any concerns or questions had by the patient or their relatives, make sure that they are heard. There shouldn’t be any surprises when the patient is discharged and a lack of understanding can interrupt the process and potentially cause problems later on.

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