14 Questions you need to ask before you leave the hospital, nursing home or other care setting

Image source: Thinkstock

Image source: Thinkstock

Leaving the hospital, nursing home, or other inpatient setting is a dangerous time for you.  A lot of patients end up back in the hospital within 30 days of going home.

The good news is that hospital readmissions can be prevented. You don’t have to end up back in the hospital if it can be avoided.

Here’s how

  • Ask your nurse, doctor, or social worker the 14 questions below before you leave the hospital.
  • Write down all the answers to those questions.


  1. Which doctor/s do I need to see after I’m discharged?  What tests do I need to do?  When do I need to see them?  What are their phone numbers?
  2. May I have the latest list of my medications?
  3. Do I continue to take the other medicines I used to take, but are not on this list? (including vitamins and supplements)
  4. What number do I call if I have questions about my medicines?
  5. What care am I going to get after discharge?  (i.e., Home Health, Outpatient Therapy, Rehab/Skilled Nursing, etc.)
  6. Do I need a caregiver?  If so, who is it and how do I contact this person?
  7. Who is going to pick up my prescriptions, and drive me to my doctor’s appointments?
  8. What do I need to do at home to get better? (i.e., weigh myself, check my blood pressure, check my blood sugar, special exercises, etc.)
  9. Can you show me (and my caregiver) how to do tasks that require special skills (i.e., changing a bandage, giving a shot)?  Can you please watch me/or my caregiver do it and let me know if I’m doing it correctly?  What number do I call if I need help with these tasks?
  10. What problems do I watch out for?  What do I do about them, and when do I call?  What number do I call when I have problems?
  11. Do I need medical equipment? (i.e. walker, oxygen, etc.) Who will arrange for this?  What number do I call if I have questions about this equipment?
  12. Do I have any activity restrictions?  What am I allowed to and not allowed to do?  For how long?
  13. Do I have any restrictions with what I eat? If so, what are they?
  14. Can I talk to a social worker? Are there any ways to help with my costs? (For coping issues, and concerns about how much you will pay.)

Why it helps you stay home

Gaps in continuity of care when patients go through transfers from one care setting to another (or to their home) have been found to be one of the main reasons for hospital readmissions.

But you can help bridge these gaps by taking a more active role in your care.

And it starts with you – asking the right questions.