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Hospital Discharge Summaries Both Empowers and Informs

November 6, 2020

It is important for primary care providers (PCPs) to know details about the care their patients receive during inpatient hospital stays. The hospital discharge summary is the key source for this information and used to improve coordination and quality of care ultimately reducing the number of preventable readmissions.

We want to remind you about some important information when discharging Federal Employee Program® (FEP) members after inpatient hospital stays. Use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) when available ensures smooth flow of information from hospital to the member’s extended healthcare network. Provide culturally appropriate member instructions, medication reconciliation and educate caregivers to support the member’s transition.

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 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

Providers should include the following in every 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

Communication helps ensure a smooth transition of the patient to the next level of care. FEP Case Management staff are available to work with members, collaborate with medical team while inpatient and post discharge to facilitate discharge planning instruction. BCBSTX and FEP applaud PCPs who have adopted utilizing discharge summaries along with medication reconciliation from their patients’ inpatient admission.

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 in this article is being provided for educational purposes only and is not the provision of medical care or advice. Physicians and other health care providers are to their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.