Discharge documentation improvement project: a pilot study

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Discharge summaries remain a critical communication tool with primary care physicians. In a previous study of over 200 general medicine discharge summaries, we demonstrated that only 50% contain information regarding the indication and follow up required of any medicine changes on discharge.


In this follow up pilot study, we assess the role of feedback and token incentives in improving discharge documentation.


Over a 14-week period, we randomly audited a selection of discharge summaries on a fortnightly basis. The results of these audits were fed back to the junior medical staff who compiled these summaries. If over 80% of the audited discharge summaries adequately documented the indication, with required follow up for new medication changes, junior doctors were provided with a token, non-monetary incentive for their efforts. At the end of the study period, we then conducted a survey of the junior doctors involved and collected feedback regarding their impressions of the study.


Over the study period, 722 discharge summaries were completed and eligible for analysis. Over this time, mean appropriate documentation regarding medicine indication improved by 32%, and follow-up documentation improved by 10%. Overall, the participants felt the interventions were beneficial and that they should be continued beyond the study period.


Education coupled with regular feedback and non-monetary incentives can potentially lead to improvements in the quality of discharge summaries.

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