Critical Details to Include in Hospital Discharge Summary

Nov. 8, 2019

It is important for primary care providers (PCPs) to include detailed information when discharging Federal Employee Program® (FEP) members.

Critical Information to Include in Discharge Summary

  • Course of treatment
  • Diagnostic test results
  • Follow-up plans
  • Diagnostic test results pending at discharge
  • Discharge medications with reasons for changes/medication reconciliation

Why is it important?

Communication between the inpatient medical team and the PCP helps ensure a smooth transition of the patient to the next level of care. We applaud PCPs who have adopted the best practice of receiving discharge summaries for their patients' inpatient admissions.

Studies have shown that providing timely, structured discharge summaries to PCPs helps reduce readmission rates, improves patient satisfaction and supports continuity of care. One study found that, at discharge, approximately 40 percent of patients typically have test results pending and 10 percent of those results require action. PCPs and patients may be unaware of these results.1,3

A prospective cohort study found that one in five patients discharged from the hospital to their homes experienced an adverse event (defined as an injury resulting from medical management rather than from the underlying disease) within three weeks of discharge. This study found 66 percent of these were drug-related adverse events.2,3


1Roy CL, Poon EG, Karson AS, et al. Patient safety concerns arising from test results that return after hospital discharge. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(2):121–8.

2Forster AJ, Murff HJ, Peterson JF, et al. The incidence and severity of adverse events affecting patients after discharge from the hospital. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(3):161–7.

3Snow, V., MD. (2009). Transitions of Care Consensus Policy Statement: American College of Physicians, Society of General Internal Medicine, Society of Hospital Medicine, American Geriatrics Society, American College of Emergency Physicians, and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 4(6), 364-370. doi:10.1002

The information mentioned here is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians are instructed to exercise their own medical judgment.