Insufficient Patient Instructions can lead to Injuries
Patients can obtain perfect results from surgery or other inpatient procedures, yet they can suffer serious injuries related to their conditions after discharge from the hospital. All too often, Charlotte medical malpractice lawyers see clients who sustain post-discharge injuries ranging from surgical site infections to broken bones after falling off crutches.
In many cases, these injuries occur simply because patients did not receive proper or timely instructions prior to their release. Patients need to take a proactive approach to ensure they know how to care for themselves once they leave the protection of a hospital setting.
Tips on Receiving Effective Post-Discharge Patient Information
Barring emergency medical treatment, most patients have an opportunity to educate themselves on proposed procedures and what to expect over the long term. Discharge instructions are an important part of this information and should be handled as follows:
- Ask for instructions prior to treatment. Particularly when anesthesia is involved, patients need to review post-treatment instructions while their minds are clear enough to understand and ask questions.
- Get help from a friend or family member. The stress of a hospital procedure can affect a patient’s memory even without anesthesia, so make sure a caring individual is present to review the information as well. Another person is likely to think of additional questions, remember more details and follow up with the patient to ensure they follow all instructions after they leave the hospital.
- Take notes. Doctors tend to use medical terminology when delivering written instructions. Even patients who ask for verbal translations cannot guarantee they will remember the definitions when they return home. The translations should be written directly on the instruction sheet to ensure that the medical terminology does not get in the way when they need it the most.
Determining When Self-Care is Appropriate
Discharge from a hospital does not automatically mean patients can care for themselves. In some cases, they can return to their homes to care for themselves, but many individuals need the care of a friend, family member or a hired caregiver. It is also a common practice to send patients to an intermediate facility for rehabilitation or additional care.
Elderly patients often require extra care after a hospital discharge, which is why the Center for Medicare Advocacy recommends a detailed process for developing a discharge plan. This plan enlists assistance from a range of professionals associated with a specific patient case to ensure an easy transition from the hospital to the next level of care, and it explains issues that anyone, young and old, should take into account.
Medical Professionals Should Take Patient Instructions Seriously
The roles of medical providers do not end when they complete surgery or other procedures. In addition to the responsibility they have during the in-patient process, they need to make sure patients know how to continue their care from the time they leave a medical facility until they reach full recovery.
When patients suffer injuries, infection or other illness after they leave the hospital, it may be for a number reasons — including to a lack of effective post-discharge instructions. A free initial consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help patients learn if they have grounds to pursue compensation for their injuries.