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Poor Hospital Discharge – Vulnerable Patients and Their Families

May 12, 2016

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) recently released a report concerning unsafe discharges from hospital. It highlights a number of cases of vulnerable patients being sent home before they are fit to leave and without the proper care or guidance to cope on their own.

In 2015, the PHSO received a 36% increase in discharge related investigations. The result of these investigations was that people’s death or suffering could have been avoided had the hospital carried out the appropriate checks before discharging people.
For example, details show that a woman in her 80s was sent home to an empty house, confused and with a catheter still in place. Another woman in her 90s died in her daughters arms shortly after being discharged from hospital.

Julie Mellor, a spokesperson for the PHSO, said: ‘Our investigations have found that some of the most vulnerable patients, including frail and older people, are enduring harrowing ordeals when they leave hospital.

‘Poor planning, coordination and communication between hospital staff and between health and social care services are failing patients, compromising their safety and dignity.

‘Health and social care leaders must work harder to uncover why ten years of guidance to prevent unsafe discharge is not being followed, causing misery and distress for patients, families and carers.’

The PHSO report outlines four main issues:

  • Patients being discharged before they are clinically ready to leave hospital
  • Patients not being assessed or consulted properly before their discharge
  • Relatives and carers not being told that their loved one has been discharged
  • Patients being discharged with no home-care plan in place or being kept in hospital due to poor coordination across services

One explanation as to why this is happening is that rather than elderly people staying in hospital longer than they need to, it is sometimes better to get patients home as quickly as possible and to asses them in their own homes. Obviously this is not suitable in all circumstances and requires a constant review and adherence to the guidelines.

The full report can be found here

If you are concerned about the care you or a loved one is receiving, then you can raise concerns or a complaint either at the time, to seek a review or after the event. Jennie Jones and her team at Nockolds offer a free consultation to allow patients to obtain advice and guidance on this issue.

For more information please contact Jennie Jones by email or call 01279 755777.


Jennie Jones

About the author

Jennie Jones

Jennie joined Nockolds in 1999 and was made Partner in 2008; Jennie also heads the Injury and Accident Team, which handles personal injury and medical ...

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