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Analysis of an intervention on discharge summary quality and timeliness

Natalie Rose Mourra, Jason S Fish, Michael Adam Pfeffer


Objective: Deficits in communication between inpatient and outpatient physicians in the post-hospital discharge period are common and potentially detrimental to person-centered doctor-patient relationships and to patient health. This study assesses the impact of a hospital discharge improvement project implemented at an urban academic hospital, aimed at improving the timeliness and quality of discharge summaries using a standardized discharge template, education and a small monetary incentive.

Methods: A random sample of 624 charts from an academic, urban hospitalist medicine service was analyzed from the pre- and post-project implementation time periods: 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. The sampling was evenly distributed throughout the months of the year. Ordinary linear regression modeling was used to evaluate the impact of the intervention on time to completion; logistic regression modeling was used to assess the impact on the quality of the discharge summaries. Both models control for patient characteristics, hospitalization acuity and in-hospital continuity of care.

Results: Unadjusted time to discharge summary completion rates decreased by 2.4 days (p<0.001) between the pre- and post-implementation times. Controlling for patient demographics, acuity of hospitalization and hand-offs between physicians, time to completion of discharge summaries was decreased by 2.17 days (p< 0.001). The odds of including at least 50% of the recommended information into a discharge summary post-intervention was 6.44 (p<0.001) compared to the odds before the intervention, controlling for patient demographics, acuity of hospitalization and hand-offs between physicians.

Conclusion: The use of education, a simple formatted recommended discharge template and a small monetary incentive improved both the timeliness and quality of the information exchanged between inpatient and outpatient providers and contributes significantly to a person-centered healthcare.


Discharge; Transitions of Care; Discharge Summary; Academic Medical Center; Quality; Process Improvement

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