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Structure, content, unsafe abbreviations, and completeness of discharge summaries: A retrospective analysis in a University Hospital in Austria.

Authors
  • Schwarz, Christine Maria1
  • Hoffmann, Magdalena1, 2, 3
  • Smolle, Christian1
  • Eiber, Michael1
  • Stoiser, Bianca4
  • Pregartner, Gudrun5
  • Kamolz, Lars-Peter1
  • Sendlhofer, Gerald1, 2
  • 1 Research Unit for Safety in Health, c/o Division of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria. , (Austria)
  • 2 Executive Department for Quality and Risk Management, University Hospital Graz, Graz, Austria. , (Austria)
  • 3 Division of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria. , (Austria)
  • 4 Department of Management, Health Management in Tourism, University of Applied Sciences, Bad Gleichenberg, Austria. , (Austria)
  • 5 Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics und Documentation, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria. , (Austria)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2021
Volume
27
Issue
6
Pages
1243–1251
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/jep.13533
PMID: 33421263
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The discharge summary (DS) is one of the most important instruments to transmit information to the treating general physician (GP). The objective of this study was to analyse important components of DS, structural characteristics as well as medical and general abbreviations. One hundred randomly selected DS from five different clinics were evaluated by five independent reviewers regarding content, structure, abbreviations and conformity to the Austrian Electronic Health Records (ELGA) using a structured case report form. Abbreviations of all 100 DS were extracted. All items were scored on a 4-point Likert-type scale ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" (or "not relevant"). Subsequently, the results were discussed among reviewers to achieve a consensus decision. The mandatory fields, reason for admission and diagnosis at discharge were present in 80% and 98% of DS. The last medication was fully scored in 48% and the recommended medication in 94% of 100 DS. There were significant overall differences among clinics for nine mandatory items. In total, 750 unexplained abbreviations were found in 100 DS. In conclusion, DS are often lacking important items. Particularly important are a detailed medication history and recommendations for further medication that should always be listed in each DS. It is thus necessary to design and implement changes that improve the completeness of DS. An important quality improvement can be achieved by avoiding the use of ambiguous abbreviations. © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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