The objective of this study was to assess the quality of communications between hospitals and general practitioners (GPs). The proportion of medical records in which the patient's general practitioner (GP) was identified, the accuracy of medications recorded in the discharge summary, the proportion of GPs who received discharge summaries, and the timeliness of receipt of discharge summaries were all evaluated. Discussions were held with all stakeholders, the literature was reviewed and GPs were surveyed to identify potential measures of quality. These were then trialled to assess their utility and practicability. Timeliness, issues that required follow-up and treatment provided in hospital were of greatest importance to general practitioners. The GP's name was recorded in 88% of audited records. Few inaccuracies were detected in the medications recorded in the discharge summaries, and GPs received 77% of discharge summaries. Methods similar to those used in this study might be broadly applied to improve the quality of discharge communication throughout Australia.