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Int J Qual Health Care. 1994 Jun;6(2):147-61.

Managing patient discharge to home: the challenges of achieving quality of care.

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  • 1Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, University of Western Ontario. London, Canada.


Discharging older patients from hospital to care at home presents considerable challenges for those concerned about the current mandate of quality management. A great many professionals with different priorities and organizational commitments are involved. The policies and procedures of at least two agencies, a hospital and a home care agency, play a role in shaping the whole process. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe factors other than medical condition and treatment which shaped the quality of the discharge experiences of older patients. Qualitative research methodology was used to document the discharge process from the perspective of 12 rural and nine urban patients, and a purposeful sample of 22 family caregivers and 117 professionals involved in their care. As well, 24 agency administrators with an overview of related policies and procedures provided data. Findings provide an in-depth description of the different implementation approaches and related quality issues in rural and urban settings. Quality management was undermined by role confusion, compromised and overly zealous pursuit of efficiency, fragmented work, variable physician practice style, and communication and coordination problems. Several readily implemented solutions to these problems are recommended. The implications of the more difficult leadership challenges related to achieving reasonable efficiency and maintaining a humane orientation in the complex care system are addressed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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