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Inadequate discharge planning can often result in poor outcomes and increased likelihood of hospital readmissions for children with special healthcare needs. Outcomes would be improved if the discharge date included an assessment of the readiness of the family's home care plan in addition to the healthcare status of the child.
Discharge planning should start shortly after admission and your physician, social worker, discharge coordinator and hospital financial aid office can assist you in this process. Their knowledge can be extremely useful but sometimes you have to personally seek their assistance.
The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides information and resources to help families and healthcare professionals improve the discharge planning process.
Discharge from a hospital does not necessarily mean that your child is fully recovered. It simply means that a physician has determined that your child's condition is stable and hospital-level care is not currently required. Because you will continue to play a primary role in your child's home care, you and your healthcare team should consider all the supports you will need:
Insurers often cover homecare services that are not specifically identified in the benefit plan if it can be shown that the child can go home sooner and is less likely to be readmitted. Speaking to your employer's benefits or human resources department can also help if a needed benefit is not covered, especially if the employer is self-insured. Providing general information about the specific conditions the child has and making sure it is available to caregivers as well as the family usually helps everyone anticipate and understand the various medical, developmental and/or behavioral situations that may occur. If a child has a potentially life threatening condition, local emergency medical services (EMS) and utilities should be notified of the patient's condition to ensure that they are familiar with the medical needs and priority in the event of an emergency.
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