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Reaching the summit of discharge summaries: a quality improvement project

Richmond, Richard Thomas, McFadzean, Isobel Joy and Vallabhaneni, Pramodh 2021. Reaching the summit of discharge summaries: a quality improvement project. BMJ Open Quality 10 , e001142. 10.1136/bmjoq-2020-001142

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Background Discharge summaries need to be completed in a timely manner, to improve communication between primary and secondary care, and evidence suggests that delays in discharge summary completion can lead to patient harm. Following a hospital health and safety review due to the sheer backlog of notes in the doctor’s room and wards, urgent action had to be undertaken to improve the discharge summary completion process at our hospital’s paediatric assessment unit. It was felt that the process would best be carried out within a quality improvement (QI) project. Methods Kotter’s ‘eight-step model for change’ was implemented in this QI project with the aim to clear the existing backlog of pending discharge summaries and improve the timeliness of discharge summary completion from the hospital’s paediatric assessment unit. A minimum target of 10% improvement in the completion rate of discharge summaries was set as the primary goal of the project. Results Following the implementation of the QI processes, we were able to clear the backlog of discharge summaries within 9 months. We improved completion within 24 hours, from <10% to 84%, within 2 months. The success of our project lies in the sustainability of the change process; to date we have consistently achieved the target completion rates since the inception of the project. As a result of the project, we were able to modify the junior doctor rota to remove discharge summary duty slots and bolster workforce on the shop floor. This is still evident in November 2020, with consistently improved discharge summary rates. Conclusion QI projects when conducted successfully can be used to improve patient care, as well as reduce administrative burden on junior doctors. Our QI project is an example of how Kotter’s eight-step model for change can be applied to clinical practice.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2399-6641
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 27 January 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 16:58

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