Background: We learned from a focus group that many patients find discharge to be one of the least satisfying elements of the hospital experience. Patients cited insufficient communication about the day and time of the impending discharge as a cause of dissatisfaction.
Objective: In partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Improvement Action Network collaborative, we tested the practicality of an in-room "discharge appointment" (DA) display.
Setting and patients: Eight inpatient care units in 2 hospitals at an academic medical center (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN).
Intervention: DA displayed on a specially designed bedside dry-erase board.
Measurements: The primary outcome was the proportion of discharged patients who had been given a DA, including same-day DAs. Secondary outcomes were (1) the proportion of DAs scheduled before the actual dismissal day and (2) the timeliness of the actual departure compared with the DA.
Results: During the 4-month period, 2046 patients were discharged. Of those, 1256 patients (61%) were given a posted DA, of which 576 (46%) were scheduled at least a day in advance and 752 (60%) departed from the care unit within 30 minutes of the appointed time.
Conclusions: With a program for in-room display of a DA in various hospital units, more than half the patients had a DA set, and most of the DA patients departed on time. Further investigation is needed to determine the effect of DAs on patient and provider satisfaction.
(c) 2007 Society of Hospital Medicine.