Patient Discharge Process: Discharge Planning

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

The patient discharge process is the formal release of a person from the responsibility of the hospital and must follow consistent procedures. See the processes involved in discharge planning to best equip the patient with all elements necessary for their well-being. Updated: 12/21/2021

Patient Discharge

The goal at the beginning of a patient's stay at the hospital is to get the patient well enough to get out of the hospital. This goal is a concerted effort among the entire healthcare team that takes care of the patient from the point of admission. The final decision for patient discharge, or the release of a patient from the hospital, is made by the attending physician responsible for the patient.

There are often many different concerns that must be addressed in order to make sure the patient is safely discharged and to reach the goal of minimizing the chance that the patient will have to be readmitted for the same or a related condition again within a short time frame.

The overall discharge process is the same for each patient, but the details may be very different depending upon the patient's overall health condition, living situation and other circumstances. Let's see how the patient discharge planning process works.

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Discharge Planning

One of the responsibilities that you may have as a nurse is to plan every aspect of a patient being discharged from the hospital. Discharge planning involves knowing the physician's orders for the patient, which will detail everything that needs to happen with patients once they are discharged. The orders are essentially your guidelines for the discharge.

The first thing to plan is the destination for the patient after discharge. The physician may discharge the patient to go home or to a nursing facility, rehabilitation center, or some form of a group home. The patient's own home is usually the easiest destination since they already have space there.

Placing the patient in any of the other facilities means that you need to contact the facility and make sure they have a bed available. In addition to securing a bed for the patient, you must verify that the facility accepts the insurance under which the patient is covered.

The next step in discharge planning is sending the physician's orders over to the facility, caregiver and/or family. It is important to verify that all of the requirements for the patient will be able to be met when the patient is discharged. Medication orders should be communicated at this point, and caregivers should determine which ones need to be ordered from a pharmacy and delivered, and which ones are available at the facility or home already.

Once you have confirmed a spot for the patient and they have the doctor's orders, you need to arrange transport for the patient to the facility. Transport options may include patients transporting themselves, family transporting the patient, or transport using an ambulatory service. The type of transport will depend on the status of the patient and any required equipment to sustain the patient's current condition.

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