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Managing Patients Outside the Hospital

Managing Patients Outside the Hospital

Nov 13, 2017 3 min read

Although accountable care organizations have appeared, I still feel there is little management of patients when discharged.  The concept was to have this umbrella over coordinating care for patients at discharge to keep them from being readmitted, but there isn't enough.

Enough of what?

Enough nurses, enough information, enough collaboration, enough management, enough questions, and enough accountability!!

Enough nurses are within the organization to educate and coordinate care among the patients who leave. We're still giving them a document we're unsure they understand and telling them what to do.

Enough information to know what home is.
Do they have a safety net at home? Who lives with them? I once had a patient being discharged from the hospital after a TIA. No one asked him what home was. The boxes were checked for him to be stable enough to go home. But now he couldn't drive. It turns out that he was the caregiver of his wife, who had dementia, and he did the shopping and the cooking, and the driving. He would be leaving without being able to drive for 6 weeks.

Enough collaboration to know who can work with those discharged and what appointments they need. The hospitals tend to be the "fortress" wanting to manage everything under one roof, thinking that makes it easier. Accountability is an issue, and I find it funny that we had developed "Accountable Care Organizations" in a system that should have been accountable all along.

Enough Management means managing the needs of the patient and families. People are living longer, more families live apart, and their elderly parents live alone with an occasional phone call. If we don't manage those patients effectively, they will return back to the hospital. Knowing what doctors they see, knowing what medication they take, knowing they have monies for their medications, and knowing they have transportation to their appointments. Managing patient is an important part of the accountability of the system. Physician offices that see 28-30 patients a day don't have the staff or the time or the knowledge to know anything about managing their patients outside the 5-10 minute appointment they have with their patients.

Enough Questions; we need to start asking the questions. We need to know the patient, their resources, their community, their support system, their culture, their anxiety, and their problems. If we don't ask the question, they will return to what they feel is their safe zone. We as a system need to support their discharge with all the ducks in a row for them and then!!!

Enough Accountability; there is never enough accountability, if there is any at all.  When a problem occurs, we used to go up the chain to lodge a complaint or tell the story. Hoping that those administrators, managers, executives, and leaders will help make a change. What we found was the typical response from healthcare. They would listen, sometimes like they cared, or get annoyed because how dare we bring them yet another problem that seems insurmountable to resolve, and then we returned to that same entity.....voila, our challenges to get things done have become more difficult than it ever was before.

So now we leave it alone and change the problem one client at a time, as we will never be able to change the culture or the system alone. So as you go forward in your practice, whether you are a staff nurse, a case manager, a discharge planner a social worker, please remember there is never enough, and make sure you provide enough for your patient before they go home.

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