FAQ: Will the Hospital Communicate With My Loved One's Doctor About His or Her Hospitalization?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

Will the hospital communicate with my loved one's doctor about his or her hospitalization?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at BetterHealthWhileAging.net. She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

Not necessarily. You'd think that all the doctors who see your loved one would be in touch with one another about the case, but this isn't automatically or always the case. The trouble with being hospitalized is that different groups of providers (hospital staff, the primary care doc or specialists, a home health agency) are often involved. Unfortunately these groups aren't typically reliable about communicating with one another.

A caregiver who helps this communication happen is ultimately helping the sick person -- a lot -- by ensuring smoother continuity of care.

What I recommend you do:

  • Make sure your loved one's primary care doctor knows there's been a hospitalization. Just call and report it the day your loved one is hospitalized, along with the reason for hospitalization, if you know it. It's helpful to call again to say when your loved one has been discharged to home or to rehab.

  • Remind the discharge planner to send a copy of the discharge summary to your loved one's regular doctor. He or she will be far better equipped to be helpful once hospital records have been received. Be prepared to supply the discharge planner with the name and contact information for your loved one's primary doc.

  • Try to get your loved one seen by his or her primary doctor within one to two weeks of hospital discharge.

  • Bring to this initial appointment the list of discharge medications (which should be part of the discharge summary). Better yet, bring along all the medication containers themselves.

  • Make sure the home health agency is communicating with your loved one's primary care doctor. To do this, furnish each side's contact information to the other. Periodically ask the home care agency's manager (not the aides themselves), "Have you sent your reports to X's doctor?" At doctor appointments, verify that this information has arrived.

Community Answers

Joyg answered...

This topic so so very necessary. Thank you. The runs to the emergency room were such challenges for me, and I am a very strong advocate. I advise everyone to have a strong advocate friend, family or paid person selected before there is a crisis. Make sure that you call them and have them be at the hospital with you. You will need all of the support you can muster.