Discharge planning can reduce readmissions

In recent years, several studies illustrate that many hospital readmissions are preventable and that improving discharge communication with the patient can help reduce hospital readmissions. Researchers have found that even when discharge summaries were available, they often lacked important information.

A study on deficits in communication between hospital-based and primary care physicians suggests that the following information should be included in the discharge summary:

  • Primary and secondary diagnoses
  • Pertinent medical history and physical findings
  • Dates of hospitalization, treatment provided and a brief summary of hospital course
  • Results of procedures and abnormal lab test results
  • Recommendations by any subspecialty consultants
  • Information given to the patient and family
  • The patient's condition or functional status at discharge
  • Reconciled discharge medication regimen, with reasons for any changes and indications for newly prescribed medications
  • Details of follow-up arrangements
  • Specific follow-up needs, including appointments or procedures to be scheduled and tests pending at discharge
  • Name and contact information of the responsible hospital physician

(Sources: American Medical News, http://amednews.com, February 15, 2010; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, http://psnet.ahrq.gov, February 15, 2010)