Hospital Variation in Quality of Discharge Summaries for Patients Hospitalized With Heart Failure Exacerbation
Background—Single-site studies have demonstrated inadequate quality of discharge summaries in timeliness, transmission, and content, potentially contributing to adverse outcomes. However, degree of hospital-level variation in discharge summary quality for patients hospitalized with heart failure (HF) is uncertain.
Methods and Results—We analyzed discharge summaries of patients enrolled in the Telemonitoring to Improve Heart Failure Outcomes (Tele-HF) study. We assessed hospital-level performance on timeliness (fraction of summaries completed on the day of discharge), documented transmission to the follow-up physician, and content (presence of components suggested by the Transitions of Care Consensus Conference). We obtained 1501 discharge summaries from 1640 (91.5%) patients discharged alive from 46 hospitals. Among hospitals contributing ≥10 summaries, the median hospital dictated 69.2% of discharge summaries on the day of discharge (range, 0.0%–98.0%; P<0.001); documented transmission of 33.3% of summaries to the follow-up physician (range, 0.0%–75.7%; P<0.001); and included 3.6 of 7 Transitions of Care Consensus Conference elements (range, 2.9–4.5; P<0.001). Hospital course was typically included (97.2%), but summaries were less likely to include discharge condition (30.7%), discharge volume status (16.0%), or discharge weight (15.7%). No discharge summary included all 7 Transitions of Care Consensus Conference–endorsed content elements, was dictated on the day of discharge, and was sent to a follow-up physician.
Conclusions—Even at the highest performing hospital, discharge summary quality is insufficient in terms of timeliness, transmission, and content. Improvements in all aspects of discharge summary quality are necessary to enable the discharge summary to serve as an effective transitional care tool.
- Received June 20, 2014.
- Accepted December 16, 2014.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.