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Pediatrics. 2010 Oct;126(4):734-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-0884. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Improving the quality of discharge communication with an educational intervention.

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Department of Pediatrics, Levine Children's Hospital, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, USA.



Communication between hospital providers and primary care physicians at the time of hospital discharge is necessary for optimal patient care and safety. Content of the inpatient discharge summary (DS) is not uniformly addressed by residency programs.


To improve DSs quality through a brief educational intervention.


We prospectively enrolled interns (first-year pediatric residents [PL1s]) in an educational intervention that consisted of a group session in which components of a high-quality DS were taught and a subsequent brief small-group session in which key components with distribution of a reminder card were reiterated. Six key components were identified: diagnosis; timely completion; pending laboratory work/studies; medications; length ≤3 pages; and discharge weight. DSs prepared by PL1s before and after the small-group session were objectively scored by blinded reviewers on the basis of how many DS components they contained (maximum score: 6). Scores were compared with historical controls of PL1s from the previous year. Audit scores were analyzed by using a mixed-effects linear regression model.


Sixty-four PL1s were enrolled in the study; 477 DSs were scored. Mean score before the small-group reminder session was 3.6 in both groups. In mixed-effects models, scores in the intervention group increased by 0.56 points (P=.002) and DSs incorporating at least 5 of 6 components increased from 22% to 41% (P<.001) after the small-group session, whereas the control group's scores were unchanged.


A brief, low-intensity educational intervention can improve quality of discharge communication and be incorporated into residency training. Electronic templates should incorporate prompts for key components of a DS.

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