home care - hospital discharge

The first step of any journey is the most critical, and this is true when it comes to home care.

The transition from a hospital visit to a care package typically starts with the discharge process, where an assessment will look into a person’s medical history and the nature of their admission, before determining what types of care they need in the immediate and long-term aftermath.

Each hospital has its own discharge policy, how long it is expected to take, the differences between simple and complex discharges and how care and support plans are set up to ensure people get the help they need to avoid a swift return to the hospital.

This can sometimes take time, which can be understandably frustrating to some people who often feel they have been left behind to wait for the paperwork to be filed.

This often leads to the question being asked of whether someone can simply leave the hospital, and the answer, at least in most cases, is yes.

A patient has the right to discharge themselves from the hospital at any time, even whilst care plans are put in place or even against medical advice. If they have the mental capacity to make a decision about their health, even one against medical advice, they have the freedom to do so.

It is best to speak to a named nurse or doctor assigned to the patient before doing so, to ensure that any necessary treatment is undertaken, follow-up care is provided and an assessment is made to ensure a patient has the mental capacity to do so.

Often, a patient who wishes to discharge themselves will be asked to fill out a disclaimer form, acknowledging the possible consequences of leaving early and taking responsibility for their health at this point.

Family members and caregivers cannot self-discharge on behalf of a patient in hospital.

Whilst leaving against medical advice is not recommended, someone who chooses to do so can be readmitted and treated, as the only circumstances where a hospital may refuse to treat someone is if they are abusing staff, being aggressive and/or violent.


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