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Going to hospital: Leaving the hospital

Everything you need to know about getting home safely and ensuring a speedy recovery.

The operation or treatment is over and you’re now preparing to be discharged from hospital.

However, there’s still plenty you can do to ensure a smooth trip home and an even smoother recovery.

Being discharged

Once your doctor has approved your discharge from hospital, it’s time to start preparing for your return home.

Day-stay patients will usually remain in a recovery area until being told they can go home, while most hospitals aim to discharge inpatients by 9am or 10am.

You will need to fill out any relevant discharge forms provided by hospital staff and settle any outstanding accounts.

You may be given copies of X-rays or other medical records to take with you, while new mothers will receive a personal health record for their baby.

Your doctor or specialist will also advise you on the medications you will need to take when you return home – these may be provided by the hospital or you may be given a prescription to fill when you return home.

Discharge against advice

Except in specific high-risk cases, for example, if you’re suffering from an infectious disease, you have the right to leave hospital whenever you choose. However, be aware that choosing to discharge yourself against the advice of your doctor is potentially a very dangerous decision. You will need to sign a disclaimer accepting full responsibility for this decision before you can be discharged.

Making a claim

In many cases, you won’t need to submit a claim to your health fund at all. The cost of hospital accommodation and specialist services will hopefully already have been taken care of by your insurer.

However, if you do receive a bill for in-hospital expenses, contact your insurer to find out whether this will be covered by your policy. Your insurer will be able to advise how you can make a claim under your policy. For example, if you receive a bill from your doctor or specialist you may have to claim from Medicare first before you can claim from your health fund.

Transport and assistance

Don’t forget about transport arrangements when leaving hospital. Chances are you won’t be able to drive yourself, so ask a friend or family member to pick you up or book a taxi to get you home on your expected day of discharge.

You may also need to give some thought to how you will manage your daily living activities once you arrive home. For example, will you need any assistance with shopping or meal preparation? Will you need help with personal care or to get to any follow-up appointments with your GP or specialist?

Older Australians are able to access government-subsidised after-hospital care, known as transition care, to help with their recovery. This can provide access to low-intensity therapy, a social worker, nursing care and support with personal care. More information on transition care and whether it’s right for you is available through the Australian government’s My Aged Care website.

Going home

To ensure a fast and successful recovery, it’s crucial that you continue looking after yourself once you leave hospital and return home. Ask your specialist for instructions on what you can expect during the recovery process, as well as what you can do to increase the speed of recovery. Some of the questions you might like to ask include:

  • Are there any signs and symptoms I can expect during recovery?
  • Should I be concerned about any of these symptoms?
  • Who should I contact if I need help?
  • Will I need to continue taking any medication?
  • When do I need to attend a follow-up appointment?
  • Will I require physiotherapy or any other form of rehabilitation?
  • When can I resume my normal leisure activities?
  • When can I go back to work?
  • Will my hospital discharge information be forwarded to my GP?

Once at home, follow all the instructions given to you by your specialist and stick to your recovery plan as closely as possible. By staying committed to improving your health and wellbeing, you’ll be back on your feet sooner than you think.

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Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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