Efficacy of patient discharge instructions: A pointer toward caregiver friendly communication methods from pediatric emergency personnel

J Family Community Med. Sep-Dec 2016;23(3):155-60. doi: 10.4103/2230-8229.189128.


Background: Discharge instructions are vital in postemergency patient care to help the caregiver understand the diagnosis and identify symptoms which require prompt readmission. In general, oral or written instructions are provided on discharge. However, there is a dearth of information on the efficacy of discharge instructions provided by physicians in KSA.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of discharge instructions for postpediatrics emergency visit.

Materials and methods: This observational cross-sectional survey conducted in the Department of Paediatric Emergency at King Abdul Aziz Medical City, Riyadh, KSA, included 173 literate adult caregivers who had given their consent. Those who had been on admission earlier and been discharged from the emergency department were excluded. Demographic data and variables like knowledge of medicine and treatment follow-up were collected using a structured questionnaire and analyzed using SPSS version 16.

Results: Verbal only, written only, or both verbal and written discharge instructions were provided. Written and verbal instructions, when provided together, were the most effective modes of communication with caregivers. The majority of the respondents were unaware of the follow-up plan (64.16%), unable to identify problems that would necessitate a follow-up (58.96%), and unable to identify the signs and symptoms that would require a revisit (62.43%) irrespective of the mode of instruction. However, more attention is necessary because of the 34.68% of the subjects who left the hospital without discharge instructions.

Conclusions: Instructions given both verbally and in writing were observed to be more effective than verbal only or written only. The effectiveness of discharge instructions was highly influenced by the level of education of the caregivers. Improved caregiver friendly methods of communication from the pediatric emergency health-care team are necessary for the delivery of discharge instructions.

Keywords: Caregiver; knowledge of medication and follow-up; patient discharge instructions; pediatric emergency.