Patients & Families Should Start Discharge Planning When Patient Enters Hospital or Other Care Facility

Patients and their families concerned about caring for a patient when discharged from a hospital or other facility should use discharge planning checklists to help discuss post discharge needs and coordinate post discharge care plans and arrangements with health care providers, insurers and the patient’s personal and care network to help ensure continuity of care after discharge.

Patients and families often are put at an unnecessary disadvantage in their efforts to care for a patient after discharge from a hospital, skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility or other inpatient care setting because the timing of discharge decisions often comes much sooner than expected and patients and their families are ill prepared to meet the post-discharge care needs of the patient when these decisions come because they lack sufficient information and experience to understand what resources and other needs the patient will have post-discharge and how to access and coordinate the arrangements to fulfill these needs.

To position the patient and their families to be better prepared to respond, patients and their families should start planning for discharge as soon as possible. Patients and their family and friends serving as caregivers should include discharge preparedness and planning in discussions for planned procedures requiring hospital or other admissions and as part of the admissions process in the case of unplanned admissions, and continue to include discharge preparation and planning discussions among the matters regularly discussed throughout the patient’s inpatient stay.

As part of discharge planning discussions, questions that patients and their caregivers generally will want to ask health care providers and payers about generally will include best case, worst case and most typical case expectations about:

  • The patient’s prognosis, recovery process and timing, and functionality landmarks and needs expected along the way;
  • What criteria are used to determine when the patient is ready for discharge;
  • What post-discharge health care needs and functional limitations on the patient’s activities of daily living to expect after discharge and what resources or other arrangements need to be coordinated to fulfill those needs;
  • When the health care provider predicts the discharge of the patient from the facility most likely will occur and what events could expedite or delay that date;
  • Information about post-discharge care and support orders and resources;
  • Post discharge complications or events to watch for and how to respond; and
  • Any other information relevant or necessary to support and care optimally for the patient after his discharge.

Discharge planning checklists obtained from health care providers, health plans case management resources, and even credible sources on the internet often provide invaluable tools to patients and their family’s efforts to anticipate and prepare to meet the post-discharge planning needs of patients.  Patients and their families can access these resources from a variety of sources.  One good place to start often is the inpatient facility itself.  Patients and their families should consider asking their health care providers to share any checklists or other criteria that the health care provider uses or recommends to determine discharge readiness and preparations. Other checklists or resources often also can be accessed from the case management or other resources accessible through the patient’s health plan.  A wide range of free and other discharge planning checklists and other tools also generally are readily available from a wide range of credible sources on the internet such as the Your Discharge Planning Checklist published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assist patients and caregivers in planning and preparing for a patient’s discharge from a hospital, nursing home or other care setting. See also Compass Health 6 Step Checklist For Hospital Discharge.   While patients and their families often may still experience financial or other practical challenges in completing the necessary arrangements even when using these checklists and other resources, obtaining as much information as possible with as much lead time as possible generally will help minimize these challenges by helping patients and families anticipate and prepare those arrangements that can be met more easily and to begin the discussions and other explorations needed to find solutions to meet the other needs of the patient that may require more coordination or exploration to address or discuss other alternatives with providers, payers and others about these needs and their resulting concerns.

Comment On Proposed Changes To FDA Food Labeling Rules Due October 13

Consumers, health care providers and others concerned about nutrition labeling should review proposed changes to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling rules recently proposed by the FDA and submit any comments by the October 13, 2015 comment deadline.

With diet and lifestyle related diseases continuing to drive American disability and healthcare costs, American policymakers, business leaders, insurers, employers and consumers increasingly are looking to help Americans to eat better.  FDA issued two proposed rules and one supplemental proposed rule on updating the nutrition facts label.  Growing interest in promoting better health by helping Americans to eat smarter has prompted recurrent interest in improvements to food labels required by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules.

In response to these concerns, FDA now is considering final adoption of two proposed rules and one supplemental proposed rule on updating the nutrition facts label.  Interested parties can review these proposed rules and other related information here.

Concerned parties should review these proposed rules and other related information here.

About Project COPE: The Coalition On Patient Empowerment &  Coalition on Responsible Health Policy

Do you have ideas about how to improve the understandability of medication warnings or research findings for patients or other ideas about how to improve healthcare or health care policy?  Share your ideas in the  PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment LinkedIn Group.  If you have knowledge, experience or other resources that could help patients, families, communities, or the government better understand or cope with  Asperger’s or other health care conditions, costs of care, or other challenges affecting Americans and the American health care system, we encourage you to get involved and share your insights.

As American leaders continue to struggle to deal with these and other mounting problems impacting the U.S. health care system, the input of individual Americans and businesses and community leaders is more critical than ever.  Get involved in helping to shape improvements and solutions to the U.S. health care system and the Americans it cares for by sharing your ideas and input through the Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy  and exchanging information and ideas for helping American families deal with their family member’s illnesses, disabilities and other healthcare challenges through PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment.

Sharing and promoting the use of practical practices, tools, information and ideas that patients and their families, health care providers, employers, health plans, communities and policymakers can share and offer to help patients, their families and others in their care communities to understand and work together to better help the patients, their family and their professional and private care community plan for and manage these  needs is the purpose of PROJECT COPE.

The Coalition and its PROJECT COPE arise and run on the belief that health care reform and policy must be patient centric and patient empowering.  The best opportunity to improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans is for every American, and every employer, insurer, and community organization to seize the opportunity to be good Samaritans.  The government, health care providers, insurers and community organizations can help by providing education and resources to make understanding and dealing with the realities of illness, disability or aging easier for a patient and their family, the affected employers and others. At the end of the day, however, caring for people requires the human touch.  Americans can best improve health care by not waiting for someone else to step up:  Step up and help bridge the gap when you or your organization can. Speak up to help communicate and facilitate when you can.  Building health care neighborhoods filled with good neighbors throughout the community is the key.

The outcome of this latest health care reform push is only a small part of a continuing process.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act makes financing care better or worse, the same challenges exist.  The real meaning of the enacted reforms will be determined largely by the shaping and implementation of regulations and enforcement actions which generally are conducted outside the public eye.  Americans individually and collectively clearly should monitor and continue to provide input through this critical time to help shape constructive rather than obstructive policy. Regardless of how the policy ultimately evolves, however, Americans, American businesses, and American communities still will need to roll up their sleeves and work to deal with the realities of dealing with ill, aging and disabled people and their families.  While the reimbursement and coverage map will change and new government mandates will confine providers, payers and patients, the practical needs and challenges of patients and families will be the same and confusion about the new configuration will create new challenges as patients, providers and payers work through the changes.

We also encourage you and others to help develop real meaningful improvements by joining PROJECT COPE: Coalition On Patient Empowerment and by sharing ideas, tools and other solutions and other resources. The Coalition For Responsible Health Care Policy provides a resource that concerned Americans can use to share, monitor and discuss the Health Care Reform law and other health care, insurance and related laws, regulations, policies and practices and options for promoting access to quality, affordable healthcare through the design, administration and enforcement of these regulations.

You also may be interested in one or more of the following other recent articles published on the Coalition for Responsible Health Care Reform electronic publication available here such as the following, our electronic Solutions Law Press Health Care Update publication available here, and/or our HR & Benefits Update electronic publication available here:

You also can get details about how to arrange for your employees or other communities to participate in training on “Building Your Family’s Health Care Toolkit,”  using the “PlayForLife” resources to organize low-cost wellness programs in your workplace, school, church or other communities, and other process improvement, compliance and other training and other resources for health care providers, employers, health plans, community leaders and others here.

NOTE:  This article is provided for educational purposes.  It is does not provide legal advice, establish any attorney-client relationship or provide or serve as a substitute for legal advice to any individual or organization.  Readers must engage properly qualified legal counsel to secure legal advice about the rules discussed in light of specific circumstances. ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, or (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.  ©2015 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press.  All other rights reserved.