Public health

Discharge summary note improves GP follow up of cardiac patients

Thursday, 4 Jun 2020


Cardiac patients are 50% more likely to have early follow up by their GP after hospitalisation if cardiologists routinely add a recommendation in the discharge summary, Australian research shows.

In an intervention to improve early GP review after hospital discharge, the Department of Cardiology at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, instituted a new policy that stipulated all patients must have a recommendation for early follow-up documented on discharge summaries, unless otherwise indicated.

Following the introduction of the recommendation policy, rates of GP follow up of discharged patients increased from 52% to 59% within seven days (Odds ratio 1.31) and from 67% to 76% (OR 1.54) within 14 days, a review of outcomes for more than 700 patients found.

GP follow-up rates within 30 days increased from 78% before the intervention to 83% in the month after discharge summary recommendations were routinely added, the study showed.

Study author Dr Luke Huang and colleagues from the Princess Alexandra Hospital said the intervention was simple to implement and effective in ensuring that cardiac patients receive early follow up after being discharged from the cardiology department. assist patients with

If used more widely it would help improve patient adherence to medications and to provide them with prompt access to education, support and help with navigating the healthcare system, Dr Huang said.

Prior to the policy being introduced, fewer than half of patients had a recommendation for early follow up documented in their discharge summary. Following the policy change this increased to 73%, and there was also a similar increase in rates of recommendation for early specialist follow up.

There was also a notable increase in the recommendations for follow up being documented in inpatient medical records, and discharge summaries were completed sooner compared with pre-intervention period (from 49% to 57% being done within seven days.

“The results from this study may be potentially applicable to other hospital specialties or health services,” they concluded.

The findings are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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