Discharge Planning

Discharge planning is an important part of any patient’s care. In this article, we’ll define the term “discharge planning” and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • Discharge planning is a process of preparing for a patient’s healthcare needs after they leave the hospital
  • Discharge planning involves the patient, their caretaker, their family, the hospital staff, and a discharge coordinator
  • Considerations for discharge planning include who the patient lives with, what their dietary needs are, required medications, and more
  • Proper discharge planning can be an important tool in preventing nursing home abuse
  • Wrongful eviction from a nursing home or eviction without proper discharge planning is illegal

What Is Discharge Planning?

Discharge planning is the process of identifying and preparing for a patient’s anticipated health care needs after they leave the hospital. This is intended to ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to the patient’s next destination whether it be their home, a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or someplace else. Proper discharge planning can avoid complications related to discharge from the hospital and a patient’s need to be readmitted later on. 

Who Is Involved in Discharge Planning?

Discharge planning involves multiple people including the patient, their caretaker, family, hospital staff, and a person who coordinates the discharge planning process. All of these people should have a copy of the discharge plan so they know what they need to do to ensure the patient has the needed continuing care. If the patient is moving from the hospital to a facility such as a nursing home, the facility should also have a copy of the discharge plan. 

Considerations for Discharge Planning

Discharge planning requires taking into account multiple factors including:

  • Possible restrictions on activities like driving or lifting after discharge
  • Rehabilitation
  • If the patient lives alone
  • Who is available to help care for the patient
  • Dietary needs
  • Wound care
  • Medication
  • Equipment needed for recovery
  • Mobility
  • Follow-up tests and appointments

Good discharge planning ensures that a patient will have access to all of the services and support that they will need once leaving the hospital. This can require coordinating community support or giving the patient aids and appliances they will need to use in their home. 

Discharge Planning and Nursing Home Abuse

Discharge planning can play an important role in reducing the risk of abuse to older patients when they leave the hospital environment. There are multiple factors that can have an impact on a patient’s safety and security that discharge planning should take into account, including:

  • Timing of the discharge
  • The environment into which the patient is released
  • Arrangements for follow-up

It’s also important to note that a failure to discharge a patient from a nursing home properly and for the right reasons can be considered nursing home abuse. The Federal Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Act protects occupants against unreasonable transfer or removal and specifies only six acceptable grounds for discharge:

  • The facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
  • The resident no longer needs nursing facility services
  • The resident’s presence endangers the safety of others in the facility
  • The resident’s presence endangers the health of others in the facility
  • The resident has failed to pay
  • The facility is closing

Nursing homes must also fulfill proper discharge planning requirements including:

  • Providing a written notice 30 days before the removal or transfer unless there is emergency justification for removal on short notice
  • Preparing a report of the resident’s mental and physical health status and a post-discharge plan of care for the resident

Improper discharge planning can lead to residents ending up unattended, homeless, or in shelters.

If you or a loved one has experienced unfair discharge or been threatened with unjustified eviction, you may be eligible for compensation. It is recommended that you speak with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to review your rights.

Featured Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers

Neustrom & Associates

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Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio

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Palermo Law Group

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Theory Law APC

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