A new policy for completion and signing of discharge summaries, which was previously distributed for comment by medical staff members, was put in place yesterday, September 4. The policy requires that the responsible practitioner enter or dictate a discharge summary within three days of a patient’s discharge, and sign it within seven days of a patient’s discharge.
This policy change was made by the Medical Executive Committee based on the need for more timely communication among practitioners. Continuous care by one practitioner through both inpatient and outpatient management still occurs, but a minority of the time. The majority of today’s inpatients are under the care of hospital-based practitioners and are discharged to the care of community-based practitioners. Optimal care across this transition requires rapid transfer of information from the inpatient stay.
In addition, despite best practices and best efforts, patients occasionally must be seen in the emergency department within days after discharge. Having a discharge summary available can be a critical factor in accurately diagnosing the problem.
This requirement will be subject to routine fines for overdue summaries. However, to give you time to adapt, these will not begin until Monday, October 1, 2012. In the meantime you may receive in-basket notices of overdue discharge summaries to remind you of the new requirement.
Thank you for your anticipated collaboration with us in making this important improvement in patient care.