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Important Things Patients Should Do After a Hospital Visit

Every year 139 million or more patients visit the emergency room for some reason and almost 15 million of these visits end up being hospitalized. In addition, millions of others get admitted through primary care doctor offices or other means. A typical patient sees multiple providers during the course of their hospital stay, from admission to discharge. The same patients get several imaging and lab tests done and may also go through multiple procedures, if any. Providers even change medications in addition to prescribing new medications. This is why a hospital stay for a patient can be a very confusing and complex process to go through. Also, at the same time, the patients themselves are very sick, confused, and are going through a very stressful time period. Patients leave the hospital with discharge instructions, new prescriptions, as well as new provider appointments. Generally, follow-up care instructions are verbally explained to patients prior to discharge, but many find it difficult to remember all the necessary information once they return home. The stress of the hospitalization, memory-clouding medication, injuries, and the sheer number of instructions can make remembering the details of verbal follow-up care instructions difficult, let alone knowing what happened during the patient’s hospital stay or what labs as well as any imaging tests that were done and were abnormal. Patients often don't even know or remember which doctors they have seen or what was explained to them. This lack of understanding and going through a complex process can lead to non compliance, missed diagnoses, missed opportunities for improving health, as well as lack of trust in the healthcare system. These patients visit their primary care providers within days to sometimes weeks after their hospital stay. During follow up visits, either the primary care provider does not get all of the patient’s medical records or does not have enough time and expertise to understand the patient’s entire hospital stay in order to explain it to the patient. Currently, the majority of the patients in the United States see a hospitalist for their inpatient care and see a primary care doctor for their outpatient care, without much communication. Both of these specialties do very well in their own field, but one may not have experience in the other's field because of how our healthcare system is set up. I have the luxury of having inpatient experience due to being a seasoned hospitalist with the experience of running two hospitalist programs as a leader, as well as working as a primary care physician with a well set practice for the last 16 years. I have seen and experienced several aspects of medicine including inpatient and outpatient. I like to review inpatient and outpatient records thoroughly and then I like to explain and go over each of these records with my patients to make sure they have the information which they might not have understood during their hospital course or emergency room visits. Taking time to explain everything about a patient's health and making sure that every lab and imaging was reviewed, as well as any pending studies, is very important to follow up on in the office. At Premier Primary Care, we welcome all patients to let us review their medical record from a recent hospital stay and thoroughly review their entire medical history, as well as any other medical records from other sources, if any, to explain the patient’s health in simple terms to ensure that they don't miss their diagnosis. We welcome you to make an appointment with us to go over your medical history and any recent hospital stay. We spend time with our patients and our passion is excellent patient experience.

Author
Suresh Lohano M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., F.A.A.P., F.H.M.

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