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JOURNAL ARTICLE

General practitioner-hospital communications: a review of discharge summaries

S Wilson, W Ruscoe, M Chapman, R Miller
Journal of Quality in Clinical Practice 2001, 21 (4): 104-8
11856404
The objective of this study was to examine the reliability, effectiveness, accuracy and timeliness of hospital to general practitioner (GP) information transfer by discharge summaries produced in a general public hospital in New South Wales, Australia. A retrospective audit of 569 patient discharge summaries and related medical records with a targeted GP interview was performed to determine receipt and clinical value of the recorded information. The main outcome measure was the number and quality of discharge summaries received by patient-nominated GPs. Summaries written for patients discharged from hospital were estimated to be received by the patient-nominated GP in 27.1% of cases. Discharge summaries audited were rated as being 63.6% accurate, with errors occurring in all facets of production. The current method of discharge summary production and distribution is unacceptable. The high number of errors (36.4%) and the low rate of receipt (27.1%), indicates that resources invested in the production of the discharge summary could be better utilized to improve information transfer.

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