Five steps to take before you’re discharged from a hospital:
Step 1: Get your medicines straight
•Know what new medicines to take and what old medicines to stop taking.
•Know how and when to take your medicines.
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•Have a plan for getting your prescription filled so you have it when you get home.
Step 2: Know your warning signs
•Know the key symptoms that your condition is getting worse.
•Don’t delay — know your doctor’s after-hours and weekend phone number.
Step 3: Make a doctor’s appointment for the next week
•Call, or have a friend call, to make your appointment for the next week.
•When making the appointment, say that you were just released from the hospital.
•Don’t take “no” for an answer; if you need to, ask to speak to a nurse.
Step 4: Update your personal-health record
•Many things may change in the hospital, so update your record upon your release.
•Bring your personal-health record to your doctor’s appointments.
Step 5: Discharge
If you’re being discharged before you feel ready, talk to your doctor about your concerns. If you still have concerns and have Medicare, call Qualis Health, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, before the end of the day of your planned discharge. (Toll-free number in Western Washington: 1-877-290-4346.)
•Ask for a “fast-track appeal” about your discharge; they will decide by noon next day.
Source: Northwest Regional Council/Area Agency on Aging, Bellingham. For more information: www.nwrcwa.org/care-transitions-program/