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BMJ Open. 2013 Apr 5;3(4). pii: e002653. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002653. Print 2013.

Identifying intensive care unit discharge planning tools: protocol for a scoping review.

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  • 1Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services-Calgary Zone, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



Transitions of care between providers are vulnerable periods in healthcare delivery that expose patients to preventable errors and adverse events. Patient discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU) to a medical or surgical hospital ward is one of the most challenging and high risk transitions of care. Approximately 1 in 12 patients discharged will be readmitted to ICU or die before leaving the hospital. Many more patients are exposed to unnecessary healthcare, adverse events and/or are disappointed with the quality of their care. Our objective is to conduct a scoping review by systematically searching the literature to identify ICU discharge planning tools and their supporting evidence-base including barriers and facilitators to their use.


Systematic searching of the published health literature will be conducted to identify the existing ICU discharge planning tools and supporting evidence. Literature (research and non-research) reporting on the tools used to facilitate decision making and/or communication at ICU discharge with patients of any age will be included. Outcomes will include adverse events and provider and patient/family-reported outcomes. Two investigators will independently review the abstracts (screen 1) to identify those meeting the inclusion criteria and then independently assess the full text articles (screen 2) to determine if they meet the inclusion criteria. Data collection will include information on citations and identified tools. A quality assessment will be performed on original research studies. A descriptive summary will be developed for each tool.


Our scoping review will synthesise the literature for ICU discharge planning tools and identify the opportunities for knowledge to action and gaps in evidence where primary evidence is necessary. This will serve as the foundational element in a multistep research programme to standardise and improve the quality of care provided to patients during ICU discharge. Ethics approval is not required for this study.

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