Follow these steps to improve communication with patients regarding their discharge information.
Sometimes patients don't quite understand or even pay attention to their discharge orders. It's understandable -- not only an understandable rush to get out of the hospital, but also factors such as low literacy and cognitive impairment can offer barriers to understanding and hence compliance.
Sheila Belcher, Joint Commission specialist at the Pikeville (Ky.) Medical Center, has come up with a couple of techniques that help Pikeville patients remember and follow instructions.
Create memorable discharge documents. Pikeville works with patients on their discharge instructions throughout their stay. Discharge instructions come in clearly labelled red folders with a number to call if the patient has any questions. And each time a new piece of instruction is added, a caregiver explains and review it with the patient. (Tip: Include a ‘refrigerator copy’ of the discharge instructions a patient can post on his or her refrigerator.)
Review instructions with the patient at discharge. Though you may explain discharge information to patients as it comes in, you need to do a comprehensive review one-on-one with the patient at the time of discharge from the hospital.
Call the patient within 24 hours of discharge. Pikeville's goal is to contact 100% of the patients discharged for follow up. (Tip: When you call, ask patients for feedback on their stay. This will give you an early estimation of how they might score your hospital on an HCAHPS survey. Additionally, ask the patients if there’s anyone on staff they’d like to recognize from their stay. Then, let the staff know by posting that feedback on a communication board.)