Nursing Notes

June 24, 2010

Patient discharge planning receiving more attention

It has always seemed to me that discharge planning was forgotten or simply ignored in the past.  Patients came in, got treated, signed papers and got copies, and they left the hospital.  I always wondered if my patient really understood the correct way to care for themselves at home.  There was a time when home health was available and utilized more, but abuse of that system has curtailed that avenue for the most part.  Home health is still available, just not as readily.

My patients are the mentally ill, so discharge planning is even more important, but at the same time my patients may or may not follow through.  I often worry about patients after they leave the hospital because I know in my heart that they will be back soon.

It’s great to see a push in this industry to have an adequate discharge plan in place and to involve the entire team in this process.  The patients can only win in this situation.

Here’s an article from the Patient Safety Monitor about this topic:

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Discharge planning has been an often neglected time in a patient’s hospital stay, which is likely one of the main reasons 20% of patients return to the hospital within 30 days, reports The New York Times. Several new programs have taken root to reverse this trend and ensure that patient care at discharge is a focal point to prevent patients from returning to the hospital.

Two of these programs, Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older adults through Safe Transitions) and Care Transitions Intervention, are leading the way. Project BOOST is a creation of the Society for Hospital Medicine and provides interested hospitals with a toolkit of standardized forms to streamline the discharge process. Care Transitions Intervention is out of the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine, with funding from the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

I wrote about the Care Transition Intervention program a couple of years ago in Briefings on Patient Safety. At that time, this project was a newer take on how to manage the handoff process for patients being discharged from the hospital. It also gave rise to the notion of a “transitions coach,” a similar concept to that of the “patient navigator” I posted about last week.

Has your facility taken part in any program that focuses on patient discharge as a means of preventing rehospitalization?

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About the Author: Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books, webcasts, and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals (www.accreditationprofessional.com) and manages Patient Safety Monitor (www.patientsafetymonitor.com), of which this blog is a part. Contact Heather by e-mailing hcomak@hcpro.com

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1 Comment »

  1. Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s blogger Jeffrey Jue posted a piece about discharge planning that can also be very helpful (http://blogs.vnsny.org/2010/06/16/how-to-take-the-stress-out-of-discharge-planning/) not just to patients but to their caregivers.

    Comment by Stav — June 30, 2010 @ 6:09 pm | Reply


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