Improving the Discharge to Home Experience for Pediatric Heart Center Patients and Families

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Purpose:The purpose of this study was to determine if implementation of the discharge specialist role improves family perception of discharge readiness and determines whether the use of the role decreases the number of tasks needing completion on the day of discharge.Design and Methods:A prospective descriptive study was designed to compare parent readiness for discharge from two groups of participants. One group had a discharge specialist the day of discharge. The other group did not have the assistance of the discharge specialist on the day of discharge. Participants were contacted after discharge and surveyed on their perception of readiness for discharge based on a modified version of the Care Transitions Method Survey. Patient responses were either Strongly Agree or Less than Strongly Agree.Results:A total of 60 patients (30 in each group) were analyzed. There were no statistically significant differences in demographic variables between the two groups. The overall average score of the composite proportion responding with Strongly Agree was higher among caregivers using a discharge specialist (Mean = 88.2) as compared to those without (Mean = 55.9, U = 157.0, p < .001).Conclusion:The use of a discharge specialist on the day of discharge resulted in a higher parent perception of discharge readiness in this sample of children with complex cardiac diagnosis.Practice Implications:The use of a discharge specialist in the heart center can assist with the successful transition from hospital to home. Future research should examine the effect of the discharge specialist on hospital re-admission rates and clinical outcomes.HighlightsMultiple tasks are often left to the day of discharge for complex patients.A role of a discharge specialist was introduced in a pediatric heart center.Parental perception of readiness for discharge increased with the new role.

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