Hospitals are required by law to prepare for patients to leave the hospital and to ensure that they receive sufficient care afterwards. All of the measures involved in this step must be discussed and agreed upon with you. Your family members can also be involved in this if you prefer.
After leaving the hospital, you will usually receive further care from your family doctor. In some cases you will also need to go back to the hospital for follow-up appointments. You usually won't have to stay the night in the hospital for this, though.
Before you leave the hospital, you will be given at least a brief letter of discharge for your family doctor, containing the essential information about your diagnosis, your hospital treatment and possible further treatment. A few days or weeks later, you will receive a more detailed medical report in the mail. This will include the results of any special examinations, as well as x-ray or ultrasound images.
Medical staff may also give you or prescribe a small amount of medicine for you to use in the days after you leave the hospital. In some hospitals, the hospital pharmacy prepares a medication schedule for you to follow. If you need special medical aids or other treatments, such as crutches or physiotherapy, the ward doctors will give you a prescription.
The hospital can also issue paperwork saying that you are unable to work for the first week following your discharge. Ask if there is anything you need to pay attention to or do at home, like follow a special diet or avoid sports activities.
If you're not yet ready to care for yourself at home once you have left the hospital and still need nursing care, the hospital will prescribe at-home nursing care. This is also covered by statutory health insurance, usually for a period of up to four weeks.
Should you end up needing nursing care for longer than that, the hospital can contact the appropriate nursing care insurance fund, with your consent. Your need for nursing care will be assessed by a specialist from the German Health Insurance Medical Service (MDK) so that further nursing care can be organized.
If you have private health insurance, you can expect to receive one or more bills from the hospital’s head doctors. You then have to submit these bills to your insurer.