Outpatient physicians' satisfaction with discharge summaries and perceived need for an electronic discharge summary

J Hosp Med. 2006 Sep;1(5):317-20. doi: 10.1002/jhm.118.


Background: Deficits in information transfer between inpatient and outpatient physicians are common and potentially dangerous.

Objective: To evaluate satisfaction with current discharge summaries, perceptions of preventable adverse events related to suboptimal information transfer, and the perceived need for the electronic discharge summary we plan to design.

Design and participants: : Survey of Department of Medicine physicians with an outpatient practice.

Measurements: Satisfaction with timeliness and quality of discharge summaries was assessed using a 5-point Likert scale. Respondents estimated the number of patients with preventable adverse events related to suboptimal information transfer at discharge.

Results: Of the 416 eligible respondents, 226 completed the survey (54%). Only 19% of the participants were satisfied or very satisfied with timeliness, and only 32% were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of discharge summaries. Overall, 41% believed that at least 1 of their patients hospitalized in the previous 6 months had experienced a preventable adverse event related to poor transfer of information at discharge.

Conclusions: Physicians were not satisfied with the timeliness or quality of discharge summaries. Physicians indicated that suboptimal transfer of information at hospital discharge contributed to preventable adverse events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care* / methods
  • Data Collection
  • Hospitalists
  • Humans
  • Outpatients
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Physicians* / psychology