The Importance of a Hospital Discharge Summary: What Every GP Needs to Know

The AMA’s position statement states “when a patient has received hospital care, the GP needs timely and comprehensive communication about the care provided, including transfer of care arrangements in order to enable the GP to continue providing high-quality care for the patient.”

Australian Medical Association, General Practice/Hospitals Transfer of Care Arrangements, 2018

Medical indemnity professional insurance

As a leading provider of medical indemnity insurance to general practitioners, Tego understands the importance of a discharge summary and how this may be the sole communication between the hospital and the GP. For a GP, they rely on this summary to verify the patient’s history and help with continuity of care.

Below are a few important practical issues hospitals and health facilities need to deliver when releasing a patient:

Plan the discharge from the beginning – discharge planning for the patient should begin from admission and include early involvement of all allied health and community services. Plus, it’s important all contact details are correct from the start, especially from a privacy and confidentiality standpoint.

Provide concise and accurate information – like most doctors, GPs are time poor and can easily miss the sentinel events if the discharge summary is too long. A complex admission might warrant a longer summary, but it should only include the sentinel events. 

Show a clear medications history – medications are adjusted frequently upon admission and discharge. GPs want to know what medications the patient is currently taking, why medicines were stopped or started while in hospital and when to restart the medications. Patients are generally only discharged with a three day supply, so it’s more imperative that the list is accurate to ensure the continuity of their care.

Effectively share pathology and radiology results – discharge summaries often list all the daily results and investigations. A detail of the final results and changes, prior to discharge is far more helpful. Include significant abnormal findings at the beginning of event summaries rather than buried amongst pages of investigations. 

Be specific in the follow up plan – most GPs would agree that endless “GP to chase” statements can come across as rude and condescending. Consider the discharge summary as a letter to a colleague or your consultant, so use language that reflects this.

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Applying these practical considerations will ensure the GP receives a clear and concise discharge summary that will make the patient handover seamless and assist with coordination of care. This will also allow the GP to feel part of the patient’s healthcare team.

Tego to the rescue

Healthcare facilities, hospitals and GP’s in Australia all need medical indemnity protection. That is why Tego offers a suite of medical indemnity insurance for specialists. Though we live in a world of automation, simple, timely and clear record keeping is still required.

Tego offers Medical Indemnity Insurance for medical practitioners. We have a profound understanding of the Australian medical profession and the ever-changing healthcare industry. It’s this expertise that allows us to provide leading cover with more choice, innovation and greater flexibility. Contact us to find out more.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.