Q&A: Keeping Patients in Discharge Lounges

October 7, 2016
Medicare Web

Q: Is it acceptable to keep patients in a discharge lounge after the discharge order is written but before the patient leaves the facility?

A: Many discussions have been had regarding a discharge lounge where patients wait for a ride or for prescriptions to be filled. Ask the following questions to determine whether the risks of this service may outweigh the benefits:

  • Which patients are safe to be sent to an non-official area of the hospital?
  • Who staffs the lounge (e.g., nurses, volunteers, aides)?
  • What happens if there is a delay in leaving past the time of the patient’s next scheduled medication?
  • What happens if the patient has an unstable event, falls, or misses a meal?

Through these questions, you can surmise that I do not believe ‘discharge lounges’ are worth the risk to the patient and to the liability of the hospital. Early and effective discharge planning should ameliorate the need for a ‘holding’ pattern during discharge.

For more information on discharge planning, refer to the upcoming book Discharge Planning Guide: Tools for Compliance, Fourth Edition, by Jackie Birmingham, RN, BSN, MS, CMAC.

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