In today’s healthcare system due to the increase in age of the population and increase need for medical care one of the major goals is for hospital staff is throughput. With this being a focus in order to treat as many people possible while using the minimal amount of resources, time, and money while providing a high than ever quality of care. Doing this put a strain on the healthcare system and its patients that can result in medical errors and un-necessary repeat admissions to the hospital. One of the most critical times for errors occurs during a transition of care or hospital discharge. With education on the importance of hospital discharges and how to utilize the discharge checklist clients can be more prepared at discharge and have the sources needed for follow-up care. This in turn will have a positive outcome in the patient’s health and wellness and a decreased need for re-hospitalization decreasing the need for additional resources.
Background on topic and its importance: Discharging a patient is an important part of nursing care, yet often, its’ importance is under-valued and over-looked in terms of the overall care of a patient. More times than not, patients come to the hospital due to illness. Whether that illness is due to injury, co-morbidities, lifestyle or other contributing factors, patients seek medical attention because they lack the understanding or ability to care for themselves and it is the responsibility of the healthcare providers to help them to reach a level of stability and functionality to be able to leave the hospital for another, less-acute setting, or preferably, to go home. During a patient’s hospital stay, healthcare providers use their knowledge and skills to help the patient recover, however, often times, it is at one of the most critical points of care, at the time of discharge, that the biggest mistakes are made. “Discharge planning is one of the key factors related to the quality of inpatient care and unnecessary hospital readmissions,” (Wong et. al., 2011) yet, initial studies show that there is “poor compliance regarding educating patients on admission in relation to expected length of stay, progress during their stay, and education on management post discharge” (White, 2013) among healthcare providers. In various studies, patients pointed out numerous barriers to discharge planning (Wong et. al., 2011). Patients feel that they are being sent home prematurely, that they will not receive the same level of care following discharge because they cannot afford to pay and that they do not understand what is happening with their care, due to lack of communication by providers (Wong et. al., 2011). It was concluded by the participants in numerous studies that by creating a standard tool for discharge, such as a checklist, with “clear guidelines and protocol,” it will create a more effective discharge system. The proposal for a more well-defined discharge planning process and the implementation of a standardized discharge checklist has been of much discussion within the healthcare world. Through these hospital’s experiences with this new process, it has been shown that patient outcomes are better and hospital satisfaction has improved (Shepperd et. al., 2010). There have been reductions in the length of hospital stay and also in hospital readmission rates, as patients found these new methods to be “all positive” with “no concerns” throughout the discharge process (White, 2013). Although the new process does not have an effect on where the patient is discharged to, the implementation of a discharge plan or checklist, along with “post-discharge support, can reduce unplanned readmissions to the hospital” regardless of where the patient discharges to (Shepperd et. al., 2010). The movement to this standardization in care and discharge planning is a big step for many hospitals with both positive and negative aspects to consider, and it will require