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Posted: September 14th, 2020

Standardizing Discharge Planning and Instructions

Standardizing Discharge Planning and Instructions

Discharge planning is a crucial process that aims to ensure a smooth and safe transition of patients from hospital to home or other care settings. It involves the coordination of care, education, and support for patients and their caregivers, as well as the provision of clear and comprehensive discharge instructions. Discharge planning can reduce the risk of readmission, adverse events, medication errors, and patient dissatisfaction. However, discharge planning is often inconsistent, fragmented, and poorly communicated, leading to suboptimal outcomes and increased costs.

To improve the quality and effectiveness of discharge planning, it is essential to standardize the process and the instructions across different settings and disciplines. Standardization can enhance the consistency, clarity, and completeness of the information provided to patients and their caregivers, as well as facilitate the communication and collaboration among health care providers. Standardization can also improve the efficiency and accountability of the discharge process, as well as the measurement and evaluation of its outcomes.

There are several strategies that can be used to standardize discharge planning and instructions, such as:

– Developing and implementing evidence-based guidelines and protocols for discharge planning that are tailored to specific patient populations, conditions, and settings.
– Using standardized tools and templates for discharge documentation, such as checklists, forms, summaries, and handouts.
– Adopting electronic health records (EHRs) and other information technology systems that can support the documentation, transmission, and retrieval of discharge information.
– Providing standardized education and training for health care providers on how to conduct effective discharge planning and deliver clear and comprehensive instructions.
– Engaging patients and their caregivers in the discharge planning process and ensuring that they understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as their follow-up care plan.
– Establishing feedback mechanisms and quality indicators to monitor and evaluate the discharge planning process and its outcomes.

Standardizing discharge planning and instructions can benefit patients, caregivers, health care providers, and health care systems. It can improve patient safety, satisfaction, and self-management; reduce caregiver burden and stress; enhance provider performance and satisfaction; and lower health care costs and utilization. Therefore, it is imperative that health care organizations adopt a systematic approach to standardize discharge planning and instructions and ensure its implementation across all levels of care.


– Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). (2019). Strategy 4: Care Transitions From Hospital to Home: IDEAL Discharge Planning.
– Coleman EA. (2019). The Care Transitions Intervention: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Internal Medicine. 166(17):1822–1828.
– Jack BW et al. (2009). A Reengineered Hospital Discharge Program to Decrease Rehospitalization: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 150(3):178–187.
– Kripalani S et al. (2014). Development of a Toolkit to Enhance Care Coordination by Improving Service Delivery Across Transitions of Care: The Project BOOST Implementation Guide. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 9(11):723–733.
– Naylor MD et al. (2014). Transitional Care of Older Adults Hospitalized with Heart Failure: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 52(5):675–684.
– Shepperd S et al. (2013). Discharge Planning From Hospital to Home. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013(1):CD000313.


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