Case Management

Include respiratory therapists in discharge planning when appropriate

Case Management Weekly, May 12, 2004

Donna Tearl, CRT, patient/family educator for respiratory care at the Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, says a respiratory therapist (RT) can help ease the transition for respiratory patients and teach them about their condition and the use of equipment. Including the RT in discharge planning helps provide the following:

  • Improves patient education. When patients-or in Tearl's case, the patients' parents-have someone knowledgeable to call who can answer questions about the use of equipment at home, they'll manage their condition more effectively.
  • Increases patient satisfaction. When patients have one single contact at the hospital and do not have to navigate endless phone trees, they become more comfortable with their situation more quickly.
  • Creates consistency and efficiency in documenting outcomes. One person handling the patients, the equipment, and the interfaces with the facility's medical staff streamlines the process.
  • Reduces length of stay and saves money. Data in Tearl's case is not conclusive. It's hard to tell whether it's her training, the earlier planning, or the advance in technology that dramatically reduced the time it takes patients to go from the intensive care unit to home ventilators. Results vary from facility to facility, but common sense says that when an RT is keeping an eye on patients' discharge situations from day one and educating them on how to use their equipment, they can go home sooner.

Source: Respiratory Care Manager, March 2003, HCPro, Inc.

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