Beyond Hospital Discharge Mechanics: Managing the Discharge Paradox and Bridging the Care Chasm.

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Abstract

Hospital discharge processes are complex and confusing, and can detrimentally affect patients, families, and providers. This qualitative study investigated pediatric hospital discharge experiences from the perspectives of parents of children with acute and chronic health conditions, primary care providers, and hospitalists. Focus groups and interviews with parents, primary care providers, and hospitalists were used to explore discharge experiences and ideas for improvement offered by participants. Using an iterative approach to analyze data resulted in five major themes for discharge experiences: (a) discharge problems, (b) teamwork, (c) ideal discharge, (d) care chasm, and (e) discharge paradox. The first three themes concern practical issues, whereas the last two themes reflect negative emotional experiences as well as practical problems encountered in the discharge process. Improvements in communication were viewed as a primary strategy for improving the discharge process for better outcomes for patients, their families, and providers.

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