Case Management

Mentor moment: Tailor discharge instructions to your patients' needs

Case Management Weekly, August 25, 2010

The issue of readmissions isn’t new, but the attention it’s receiving is. With new regulations, incentives for reducing preventable readmissions are not only aligned, but imperative for providers.

Preventing unnecessary 30-day readmissions is a complex issue. The solution should be formulated with evidenced-based best practices. Next, the team must identify those patients at greatest risk for readmission. Key success factors include the following:

  • Effective communications between healthcare delivery team members
  • Proactive discharge planning between the care team and the patient
  • Customized discharge instructions that are meaningful to the patient’s unique needs and lifestyle

Communication is an obvious component of discharge planning. Caregivers may communicate the correct information repeatedly to patients, but if patients can’t comprehend or apply the information to their own situations, it’s like speaking another language.

We, as caregivers, should take time to read our patients’ body language. Is the patient engaged and connected to what we are sharing with respect to their discharge needs or are they more focused on having their IV access removed and securing a ride home?

Hospital staff must deliver discharge instructions in a way that the patient can comprehend and comply with. This may require being very creative, depending on the patient’s needs. Hopefully, a standardized technology solution will soon enable us to tweak discharge instructions based on patients’ learning levels and specific needs.

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