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I’m Being Discharged... Now What?

I’m Being Discharged…Now What?

So, you’ve just spent the last 6 days in the hospital due to a flare up of your COPD. Now the doctor has told you it’s time to go home. What now? You feel better, but certainly not ready to run a marathon. The idea of going home is overwhelming. However, take heart! This process of discharge is not a random shot in the dark as to your readiness, nor does it mean you’re now on your own. In actuality, the discharge process is critically important to ensuring you remain healthy after you’re home. In fact, it is so important that in most hospitals the discharge process actually begins behind the scenes as soon as you’re admitted.

Here are a few helpful hints for a smooth transition from hospital to home that we share with our patients.

Take Advantage of Help

First, remember that there are people in the hospital whose sole purpose is to make this as easy a transition as possible. In many facilities, it is their job to arrange home care, make follow up doctor’s appointments, make plans for medication deliveries, coordinate home oxygen if needed, and in general do most of the legwork for you. So, take advantage of that provision.
Have a written list of questions and concerns that you can ask the care manager or discharge nurse. It’s always best to have a family member or good friend with you when the discharge instructions are being given; these instructions play an important role in the discharge process. But often so much information is provided at one time that it’s nearly impossible to remember everything. If fact, you may need to ask the person giving you instructions to repeat it several times. It’s also a good idea to “teach it back” to the person giving you the information. We remember something better if we repeat it.

Get the Info!

It is your right to have all discharge information, both spoken and written, provided in your first language. If this service is not provided to you and you feel you would understand more in your native language, it’s within your rights to ask for it.

Check the Medication

There is the possibility that your medications have been changed or adjusted during your hospital stay, so this will be discussed with you. Make sure you understand the purpose of each new medication and how often you’ll be taking it. Studies have shown that medication errors are common after a person is home from the hospital because they didn’t understand the new regimen. Your provider should give you a written list of all medications you will now be taking. Through partnerships with local pharmacies, some of your medications may be delivered to the hospital even before you’re discharged.

Grab the Phone!

Some of the discussion should revolve around what you can expect for the first few days home. You should be given a phone number to call with any questions you may have. Feel free to use it. In addition, you will most likely receive calls from the hospital in the days following your discharge to make sure everything is going well. Ask questions when they call; it’s a wonderful resource to take advantage of.

Connect with the Community

There may be community services available in your area such as meals, transportation, or support groups. Sadly, while some of these services are provided free of charge, many are not. However, if something is determined to be “medically necessary” by your doctor, you may be eligible to receive equipment or care. It usually requires a letter be submitted by your physician stating the reasons it’s necessary.

Stay Healthy!

Once you’re home do everything in your power to stay as healthy as possible. Quit smoking if you haven’t already, stay away from sick people, wash your hands frequently, take your medications faithfully, eat healthy balanced meals, drink plenty of fluids, and try your best to manage stress – it’s a killer to the immune system. Call your doctor immediately if you notice shortness of breath, increased mucous production, fever, swelling in your extremities or tightness in your chest that isn’t relieved by medication.

Some of these steps may be so obvious or simple we underrate their importance, others so difficult we avoid facing them. But following this advice empowers you to take control of your health and avoid relapse or readmission!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Gadget
    2 years ago

    I had two bouts of pneumonia within 6 to 8 months. I was on so many antibiotics, three different ones in a months time. I do better now, just seeing a nurse practitioner..
    Recently had 4 or 5 good days without rib pain or labored breathing. It’s reared its ugly head again.
    My Chow-chow gets me through. Thank God for him!.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator author
    2 years ago

    Gadget I’m so glad to hear you’re doing a little better. That’s great news!

    Post a picture of your Chow-Chow when you get a change – we’d love to see him. They can make such a difference in our life, can’t they?

    Lyn (moderator)

  • Gadget
    2 years ago

    Autocorrect is incorrect. My father died from COPD.

  • Gadget
    2 years ago

    I have had a few flares, not once did doc recommend hospitalization. I have woke up in the middle of night gasping for air, pneumonia twice…but it did take six visits to prompt care, medical school, and ER, to find out I had pneumonia.
    Wonder how bad is bad here where I live. My doctor doesn’t get why I get so darn depressed.

    I seen my dad did from COPD, I know what it entails. He had it easier with doctors than I do.

  • Casey Hribar moderator
    2 years ago

    Wow, Gadget. Thank you for sharing that with us, and I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had to endure so much to get the diagnosis of pneumonia that you needed. Have you been able to recover at all from this? Many of our community members report struggling with pneumonia, and add that it can take months, if not longer, to move on from.

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re so depressed. Please know we’re here for you, and you’re not alone in this. I actually found a few articles you might be interested in, regarding COPD and depression. You can find these here, and If you get a chance to read these, let us know what you think!

    I’m also incredibly sorry to hear about your father’s passing. Please know our thoughts and support are with you. How truly awful. I’m glad he had a better time with his doctors, however, we’re still sending our deepest condolences your way.

    Once again, please know we’re here for you and grateful to have you in our community! We hope you’ll continue to keep us updated!

    Best, Casey ( Team)

  • Janet Plank moderator
    2 years ago

    This is a very good article and tells it like it is! It’s important to know that when you get home you aren’t alone and that help & support are just a call or message away.
    On your doctor’s recommendation, do get up and walk around, begin physical therapy or exercise as he/she wants you to do. Use baby steps and pace yourself.

    Welcome home!


  • Casey Hribar moderator
    2 years ago

    Wow, GeneTurney! I’m so sorry to hear that! Ugh! How frustrating! Did they send you away with any additional treatments or instructions? Or did they just send you on home? How did you manage to get through the flare?

    Please know we’re here for you, and wishing you some relief soon!

    Best, Casey ( Team)

  • Lazy T
    2 years ago

    My last flare up sent me to the er…dismissed after a few hours. They did not think much of it!

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