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What Happened to My Patient? An Educational Intervention to Facilitate Postdischarge Patient Follow-Up



Following up on patients' clinical courses after hospital discharge may enhance physicians' learning and care of future patients. Barriers to this practice for residents include time constraints, discontinuous training environments, and difficulty accessing patient information.


We designed an educational intervention facilitating informed self-assessment and reflection through structured postdischarge follow-up of patients' longitudinal clinical courses. We then examined the experience of interns who received this intervention in a mixed methods study.


Internal medicine interns on a 4-week patient safety rotation received lists of hospitalized patients they had cared for earlier in the year. They selected patients for chart review and completed a guided reflection worksheet for each patient reviewed. Interns then discussed lessons learned in a faculty-led group debrief session.


Of 62 eligible interns, 62 (100%) participated in this intervention and completed 293 reflection worksheets. We analyzed worksheets and transcripts from 6 debrief sessions. Interns reported that postdischarge patient follow-up was valuable for their professional development, and helped them understand the natural history of disease and patients' illness experiences. After reviewing their patients' clinical courses, interns stated that they would advocate for earlier end-of-life counseling, improve care transitions, and adjust their clinical decision-making for similar patients in the future.


Our educational intervention created the time, space, and structure for postdischarge patient follow-up. It was well received by participants, and is an opportunity for experiential learning.

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