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Discharge planning refers to the process of determining what care is needed after a patient leaves the hospital. The process should result in specific recommendations including what events or symptoms would require the patient to seek follow-up care or visit the emergency department (ED).
The goal of discharge planning is to optimize a patient’s recovery from the hospital, coordinate future care and follow up appointments, decrease possible adverse events, and reduce readmissions. A proper discharge plan is communicated both written and verbally. This helps patients understand the principle diagnosis and treatment received during hospitalization, his or her responsibilities after discharge, defines a follow-up plan and what symptoms or occurrences should prompt the individual to return to the hospital.
At minimum, elements in a patient discharge summary should include:
- Reason for hospitalization with specific principle diagnosis
- Discussion of hospitalization
- Patient’s condition at discharge
- Comprehensive and reconciled medication list or documentation noting the patient was provided a full reconciled medication list
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