Learn more about risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of sepsis

Planning for your discharge home from the hospital is a process. Leaving the hospital is much more complex than checking out of a hotel. At UPMC, this process starts the moment you enter one of our facilities.

Getting discharged from the hospital is the process of moving from inpatient care in the hospital to another level of care. At this point, you no longer need inpatient care.

After this, you can usually go home or go stay with a loved one. Sometimes, you’ll go to another facility for further care (usually a nursing home or rehabilitation center).

Our staff takes care during discharge from the hospital to ensure a safe and efficient transition home. To make sure your health continues to improve, we aim to address all your needs before you leave.

The goal of the hospital discharge process is to prepare you for your next level of care. A successful discharge hopes to reduce the likelihood you end up back in the hospital or with complications from your health issues.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

How to Prepare for Discharge

To prepare for discharge from the hospital, consider what questions you may have when you get home.

When you get discharged, you’ll receive tailored instructions from your care team. This paperwork is an after-visit summary (AVS). It’ll include details about caring for yourself after discharge and the medicines and equipment you’ll need.

If you return home or to a loved one’s house, you may need help doing certain things. You may find it difficult to:

  • Take care of your health. For instance, getting to your follow-up visits, managing your medicines, and using medical equipment.
  • Take care of your home. For instance, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping.
  • Take care of yourself. For instance, you may need help bathing, eating, dressing, and toileting.

Ask your care team about your potential limitations in any of these areas. Consider how you’ll prepare for these limitations and work within your abilities.

Who will take you home?

First, you’ll need to make sure you have a safe way to get home. You’ll need to find someone who can make sure you’re safely back in your home with everything you need.

Work, personal schedules, and other responsibilities may make it hard to find someone. If you’ve preplanned your hospital stay, think about who can help you get home before you arrive. They may need to request time off work or plan for the day you come home.

The care team will talk to you about how you’ll get home. This will give your team a clear understanding of who will pick you up. We’ll make sure your loved one knows how to address your needs.

Making these plans early allows you to concentrate on your recovery and eventually return home.

What will you need when you get home?

After spending time in the hospital, you may need to continue your care at home. This may include medicines or equipment to ensure your full recovery and safety as you get better.

These will vary based on your health issues and why you were in the hospital to begin with. Your care team will address these questions in your AVS and discharge discussion.

Some supplies you may need at home include:

  • Bandages and dressings.
  • Diapers.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Hospital bed.
  • Oxygen supply.
  • Portable toilet.
  • Shower chair.
  • Skin care items.
  • Walker or cane.
  • Wheelchair.

Your care team should order any equipment or supplies you need. They should also send your prescriptions to your requested pharmacy.

Another thing to consider when you head home from the hospital is what food you have at home. Make sure you have enough groceries. Check with your care team if you have any dietary restrictions because of a procedure or medication.

You may find there are things you can’t or shouldn’t eat when you get home. This might include specific foods, such as milk, or forms of food, such as solid foods. Make sure you’re ready to follow these instructions.

Perhaps consider having your groceries delivered or having a loved one or support person pick them up for you.

What Happens When You Get Discharged from the Hospital?

When you’ve gotten discharged from the hospital, several things should happen:

  • Your care team will give you your AVS and review your discharge plan.
  • You’ll schedule follow-up visits.
  • Your care team may give you some supplies you’ll need, like wound care bandages.
  • Your care team will show you and your caregiver how to perform tasks that require special skills. This may include changing a bandage or giving a shot.
  • You’ll pack up your things. Your loved one or a care team member will help you get them to your car.
  • You’ll leave the hospital. Your support person may pull up their car, and then you’ll use a wheelchair to head to the exit.

While reviewing your discharge packet, make sure you grasp what you need to do after you return home. The following can help:

  • Ask about any restrictions on your activities. Your care team may suggest you refrain from driving, bathing, or heavy lifting. Knowing this will help you prepare.
  • Ask about any symptoms you should report. These may include a fever, intense pain, or shortness of breath. Make sure you know who to call if you’re having these symptoms and what else you should do.
  • Ask how often you’ll need to have someone else present with you to make sure you’re safe. If you do need this, make sure you know how often a loved one should check up on you and make those arrangements.
  • Ask who to call if you have questions.

When can you leave?

When you can leave is an essential question. We aim to help you leave the hospital as early in the day as possible.

Evidence shows that people who get discharged earlier in the day are less likely to return to the hospital. Why? With a safe, early discharge:

  • The same team that cared for you in the hospital can answer any questions you have when you get home.
  • You can get the equipment you need dropped off on the same day.
  • You can get your prescriptions filled.
  • You’ll arrive at your destination during daylight.
  • You’ll feel less tired and less stressed.

Leaving the hospital safely is often a complex process, and we want to manage your discharge safely and efficiently. That includes your transition to home or other facilities. Your care team at UPMC will work with you to make sure you have everything in place for a safe and timely discharge.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.

This article is most relevant to people located outside of our defined regions. If you want to only be shown articles relevant to your region, then please update your preferred region here: