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Get Out and Stay Out Part II

May 19, 2009
by daphne
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So I asked the smartest person I know—Mom—her thoughts on the best way to keep her from being readmitted to the hospital for her CHF. She said:

“First of all, they give you this discharge paper when you leave, which is very nice. But you can never read the scribbles and you have no idea what it means. So they could start by making it something you can understand. The other thing is that when you’re in the hospital, you have the idea (whether it’s true or not) that people are taking care of you, and talking to each other and things are under control. You at least THINK that someone is in charge. The minute you leave, that is over and you are on your own.”

This is extra hard on Mom because her huband of 50 years, npw passed, was a physician from the old school--from the days when your doctor knew everything. Now, Mom knows enough to make an appointment with her primary care doc as soon as she gets out. Unfortunately, the discharge summary is rarely available when she gets there. I don’t know how fast that will change, but there has been another interesting development: Her insurer, AARP, just called to get her set up on a monitor to check her weight daily (a common indicator in CHF.) I found that interesting—not the hospital, not her doctor, but her INSURER. AARP knows it will lose money if Mom goes back in.

What if the same thing applied to the hospital?

PS I am going to be submitting ideas for next month’s stories in a few days. If you have any ideas, let me know.



Daphne. Excellent post. I can't wait to read your upcoming story on discharge processes and how IT is being used to bridge that gap between hospital and home, or at least make the discharge smoother.

Regarding the "lost" quality. My father certainly had that for about 6 months after his AAA. But his vitality came back after a while, and now he's better than ever. Your mom has been through an ordeal and may just need some time to get her strength back.


Great post! Your Mom looks healthy and I know she is wise by having a glass of red wine. That's smart and healthy! It will add years to her life and everyone that has a glass (or so) of red wine daily. I hope she feels better very soon. I am certainly not an expert on medical care but I do read quite a bit about healthy habits. Once the report on red wine came out a few years ago - I did become an expert on red wine!

Thanks Tim. I see a "lost" quality in this picture, something common to all too many elderly folks (though we try to help). As for the wine, she never loved it, having a glass is just a holdover from sharing a glass with my dad, who was quite the afficionado. But hopefully it will help her heart.