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Health Briefs

How to avoid a return stay in the hospital

Avoiding Hospital ReadmissionNo one wants to spent time in the hospital, but sometimes it's the best way to treat what ails you. If you didn't want to go to the hospital in the first place, you surely won't want to go back. These tips will help lessen the chance you'll have to return to the hospital for further care for the same illness.

Know your medications

Harmful drug interactions are among the most common causes of hospital readmissions. That's why it's important to know the names of your medications and what they are used for. General terms like "heart pill" and "blood pressure pill" can be misleading and lead to over-medication. That's because some drugs may be duplicates of others you already are taking or may be similar in action. Taking both can be unsafe.

Be sure your doctor knows all the drugs you are taking by name. Include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements as well; the combination can be harmful.

Know your health issues

Be sure you understand what your health issues are and what changes may have occurred during your hospital stay. Do you know what warning signs to watch for once you get home? Do you know who to call if you have questions or concerns after you leave the hospital? Do you have an after-hours phone number?

Know how to follow up

Do you know when you should see your own doctor for follow-up care? Have you made the appointment? Will you need a ride to the doctor's office or to the drugstore to pick up your medications? Does your primary care doctor know about your hospital stay? Is the hospital sending your medical records to your doctor?

Get some support

Have a friend or family member review your discharge plan with you before you leave the hospital. Are the instructions clear? Ask questions and be sure you clearly understand your discharge instructions and that you know how to take your medications and what side effects to watch for.