Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice What Your Patient is Thinking

What I wish I’d known before my hospital discharge

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1192 (Published 21 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1192

Carolyn Thomas, a Canadian heart patient, discusses how communication to prepare her for discharge could have been improved

If I’d had my heart attack in the 1950s, I would have stayed in the hospital for a month. Today, heart attack survivors can be back home in 3-5 days.

Going home

I couldn’t wait to go home, to sleep in my own bed, amid familiar surroundings, family, and friends. But when I was sent home from the coronary care unit at my local heart hospital, I was also scared that every twinge I felt meant another heart attack. I’d left behind the constant monitoring of professional experts for a home where nobody in my family knew anything about cardiology.

Life at home

I had some written instructions about wound care and …

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