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Hospital discharge data 'often patchy', investigation finds

By Gareth Iacobucci

An investigation by the Care Quality Commission has revealed a huge lack of confidence among GPs in the quality of information about patients' medication coming from hospitals.

It found 81% of GP practices said details of medicines prescribed by hospitals were incomplete or inaccurate ‘all of the time' or ‘most of the time'.

Similarly, 88% reported that the summary of diagnosis on admission to hospital was incomplete or inaccurate ‘all of the time' or ‘most of the time'.

Only 53% of practices in the study – which examined data from 12 PCTs and 280 of their GP practices - said summaries were received in time to be useful for a patient's first follow-up GP appointment either all ‘of the time' or ‘most of the time'.

The study concluded that discharge information was 'often patchy'.

However, hospitals reported that GP practices were failing to systematically provide them with information on: previous drug reactions (24%); other existing illnesses, (14%); or known allergies (11%), when patients are admitted, leaving them at risk of prescribing medicines that could harm patients.

The CQC said there was ‘some evidence of good practice' during its visits, but highlighted several areas needing improvement.

  • Information shared between GPs and hospitals when a patient moves between services is often patchy, incomplete and not shared quickly enough.
  • Updating of GP patient records is not always carried out by clinical staff.
  • Too few patients are offered discussions with their GP about managing their medication.
  • GPs are not consistently reporting medication incidents and errors, and PCTs are not always monitoring them.

Cynthia Bower, CQC's chief executive, said: ‘People have a right to expect clinicians to know details about each stage of their care, and in this day and age they are right to do so. It's not possible for a clinician to make good decisions about care unless they have key information about a patient.

‘There needs to be a change of attitude in the NHS in recognising how important it is for clinicians to pass the baton smoothly between services in order to offer person-centred, integrated care.'

81% of GP practices said details of medicines prescribed by hospitals were incomplete or inaccurate ‘all of the time' or ‘most of the time' 81% of GP practices said details of medicines prescribed by hospitals were incomplete or inaccurate ‘all of the time' or ‘most of the time'

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