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How to Avoid a Return Trip to the Hospital

You’re ready to go home from the hospital, but do you know how to manage your recovery after you’re discharged? One in five patients with Medicare who are discharged from a hospital are rehospitalized within 30 days, for reasons they could have prevented themselves. Planning ahead and asking a few questions can avoid an unnecessary return to the hospital—and make sure you’re able recover at home.

Plan ahead for going home

If you have any concerns about managing at home, tell the hospital staff before it’s time to leave. The day you’re discharged will be busy, and you might forget to ask important questions. Before you’re discharged, you should:

  • Ask your care team to put the information you need in writing, including instructions for wound care, medications and dietary restrictions.
  • Know who to call with questions or problems.
  • Have the names and phone numbers for any home care services you need.
  • Know what exercises might be helpful and which activities to avoid.

Know your medications before you leave

If you’re not given list of your medications, ask for one. This list should tell you:

  • The generic and brand names of the medication.
  • Why you’re taking it.
  • How much should you take, and any special instructions, like “with food,” “every 12 hours,” etc.
  • Potential side effects to watch out for.

See your doctor 5–7 days after leaving the hospital

One-third of patients who leave the hospital don't get the follow-up care they need, like lab tests or an appointment with a specialist. You can make attending follow-up appointments easier by:

  • Planning ahead if you need help with transportation.
  • Asking before you’re discharged if follow-up appointments have already been made for you. If not, be sure you know who to call to make them.
  • Listing your questions or concerns (about medication, test results, pain, wound healing, etc.) to ask at your follow-up visit.

Work with a Care Manager

Care Managers can help you transition to your home after being in the hospital. They can also help you get care at home if you need it, make follow-up appointments with your doctor and provide other helpful resources. To learn more about working with a Care Manager, call Customer Service at 1-888-341-1507 (TTY: 711).