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Death after Discharge – Every heart beat counts (probably)!

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The assumption would be that patients who are discharged from an emergency or acute medicine department have been thoroughly assessed and are good to return to the safety of their own home. An unplanned death after discharge from hospital is the worst-case scenario for patients, families and indeed clinicians. In order to prevent adverse events after patients leave hospital most units have a multi-layered system to capture risk that includes triage, recording of vital signs, basic blood tests, understanding of existing past medical history and assessment by a senior clinician to add experience and intuition. Discharge decisions depend on a balanced review of all these parameters and a discussion with patients about residual risks. Only after this will patients go home. Despite this a small percentage of patients pass away unexpectedly within days after leaving hospital.

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