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As soon as you are admitted or as soon after that as conditions permit, start planning to leave the hospital. Where will you go? Who will arrange for your care? How will it be paid for?

Who will be your caregiver?

Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 217 allows you, your guardian or your agent under a Medical Power of Attorney to decide who will be your caregiver. The discharge worker must discuss with you and the designated caregiver that person’s capabilities and limitations. The discharge plan must be realistic. It must include aftercare instructions and be designed to meet your needs.

Where will you go?

You may want to go home. Who doesn’t? Is there someone at home who will be able to care for you? Will they be adequately trained before you are discharged? Who will provide backup 24/7 if there is a hitch? You don’t want to be rushed to the emergency room – and the hospital will be dinged if you return within 30 days.

If outside help is needed, make sure it is in place first. If you hire a home health care agency, make sure that the people are trained, insured and bonded and that there is backup if someone gets a flat tire or just doesn’t work out.

Many of us go from the hospital to rehab, often in a nursing home. You may have few choices. But you still have a choice. Check out www.nursinghome411.org, https://projects.propublica.org/nursing-homes and www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

If you are going to assisted living, check the state license.

Are you even ready to leave the hospital? Get your physician on your side and file an appeal as soon as possible. Contact an elder lawyer. The hospitalist who is talking about discharge may not know the whole story.


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.

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