Importance of Hospital Discharge Summaries – Federal Employee Program

November 28, 2018

It is important for a hospital patient’s regular providers and practitioners to know details about the care a patient receives during an inpatient hospital stay. The hospital discharge summary is the key source for this information

Studies have shown that providing timely, structured discharge summaries to Primary Care Providers (PCP) and other practitioners involved in the patient’s care favorably impacts readmission rates, patient satisfaction and continuity of care. One study found that at discharge, approximately 40 percent of patients have test results pending and that 10 percent of those require action. PCPs and patients may be unaware of these results. 1,3

A prospective cohort study found that one in five patients discharged from the hospital to their homes experienced an adverse event, defined as an injury resulting from issues with medical management rather than from the underlying disease, within three weeks of discharge. This study found 66 percent of these were drug-related adverse events. 2,3

Key information that should be included in every discharge summary include:

  • course of treatment
  • diagnostic test results
  • follow-up plans
  • diagnostic test results pending at discharge
  • discharge medications with reasons for changes/ medication reconciliation

Communication between the in-patient medical team and the PCP is critical to ensure a smooth and durable transition of the patient to the next level of care.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico applauds practitioners who have adopted a structured approach to receiving discharge summaries as this demonstrates best practice.