Discharge Rounds: Implementation of a Targeted Intervention for Improving Patient Throughput on an Inpatient Medical Teaching Service

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Abstract

Objectives

Patient throughput and early discharges are important for decreasing emergency department wait times and creating available beds for new hospital admissions. The educational schedule of internal medicine trainees can interfere with timely discharges, but targeted interventions can help residents meet the hospital’s patient flow needs. Our training program instituted daily morning discharge rounds on the inpatient service, requiring each team to prepare potential discharges 1 day ahead and prioritizing these discharges the next day.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective, pre–post analysis 1 month before and 3 months after implementation in August 2013 to assess discharge order entry times, the proportion of discharges before 11:00 am, and hospital departure times.

Results

One month post-implementation, discharge orders were entered 59 minutes earlier (from 1:07 pm to 12:08 pm; P = 0.001), the percentage of pre-11:00 am discharges increased from 21% to 39% (P < 0.01), and patients departed the hospital 50 minutes earlier (from 3:21 pm to 2:31 pm; P = 0.005). These effects, however, returned to pre-implementation times during the subsequent 2 months.

Conclusions

A targeted intervention can significantly improve early discharges and should be replicable at other academic medical centers. Reinforcement is needed for these gains to be sustainable, however.

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