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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does a Standardized Discharge Communication Tool Improve Resident Performance and Overall Patient Satisfaction?


Introduction: The discharge conversation is a critical component of the emergency department encounter. Studies suggest that emergency medicine (EM) residency education is deficient in formally training residents on the patient discharge conversation. Our goal was to assess the proficiency of EM residents in addressing essential elements of a comprehensive discharge conversation; identify which components of the discharge conversation are omitted; introduce “DC HOME,” a standardized discharge mnemonic; and determine whether its implementation improved resident performance and patient satisfaction.

Methods: This was a prospective observational pre- and post-intervention study done by convenience sampling of 400 resident discharge encounters. Resident physicians were observed by attending physicians who completed an evaluation, answering “yes” or “no” as to whether residents addressed six components of a comprehensive discharge. The six components include the following: diagnosis; care rendered; health and lifestyle modifications; obstacles after discharge; medications; and expectations – or “DC HOME.” Didactics introducing the mnemonic “DC HOME” was provided to resident physicians. Patient feedback and satisfaction were collected after each encounter, and we recorded differences between pre-intervention and post-intervention encounters.

Results: Resident physicians improved significantly in all six components of “DC HOME” from pre-and-post intervention: discharge diagnosis (P = 0.0036) and the remaining five components (P<0.0001). There was a statistically significant improvement in patients’ perception for health and lifestyle modifications, obstacles after discharge, medications, expectations after discharge (P<0.0001), and discharge diagnosis (P = 0.0029). Patient satisfaction scores improved significantly (P = 0.005). Time spent with patients during discharge increased from 2 minutes and 42 seconds to 4 minutes and 4 seconds (P<0.0001).

Conclusion: EM residents frequently omit key components of the discharge conversation. The implementation of the “DC HOME” discharge mnemonic improves resident discharge performance, patient perception, and overall patient satisfaction.

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