Discharge Coordinator  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotDischarge coordinators make sure that patients leaving the hospital or clinic will be able to continue their recovery from home or wherever they're going.

A patient returning home could need special medical equipment. That could include ventilators, wheelchairs, hospital beds or IV hook-ups. Coordinators find the equipment and make sure that the patient knows how to use it.

dotA patient being discharged could be transferring to another facility or returning to a home community. The discharge coordinator arranges for home care or other necessary appointments. In some situations, coordinators arrange for special services such as alcohol and drug rehabilitation, family counseling or income assistance.

dotIn some places, discharge coordinators are called case managers. However, nurses handle most of the discharge coordination. In other cases, social workers may also share the responsibility.

dotThose responsible for discharge coordination work closely with insurance companies to ensure that all arrangements are covered by insurance.

dotCoordinators must keep accurate records and notes so that other health-care professionals can see what is needed or what is in place.

Teamwork and communication skills are essential. The coordinator must consult with many different health professionals to ensure that the patient is ready for discharge.

Some discharge coordinators educate and train patients, family members and other health-care professionals in the use of equipment.

Andy Libbiter is the manager of social work at a hospital. While he can't speak for other social workers, Libbiter says he tries to educate patients and others to be able to help themselves. "We try to empower the patient so they know how and where to get the ongoing help that they need," he says.

dotComputer skills are important. Most discharge coordinators have to use the hospital's database.

dotRobin Bisgaard used to be a discharge coordinator. She believes that a person with a physical disability could do the work. "It depends on how the job is set up," she says. "But you use your brain more than your body. If you can talk on the telephone and enter data into a computer, you could probably do the job."

At a Glance

Ease the transition from hospital to home

  • Sometimes, coordinators arrange for alcohol and drug rehabilitation or family counseling
  • Teamwork and communication skills are essential
  • You generally need to be a nurse first