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Independents' Day

Discharge reports need to work for patients and GPs

Editor’s blog

We reported today on another tragic case, this time involving a 55-year-old woman who died from a large myocardial infarction.

The coroner criticised Nuffield Health’s ‘unwieldy’ discharge policy, saying as a result GPs were not clearly informed what happened to the patient, or that a blood test was vital. Although this is a private hospital, many GPs will recognise problems with hospitals discharging patients.

It’s about time that trusts review their discharge policies

Too often, GPs are left having to spend valuable time discharge letters, spend valuable time deciphering these discharge letters, chasing them up or having to organise tests directed by the letters (which, in this case, should have been organised by Nuffield Health).

I continually hear that this is one of the biggest burdens for practices. But GPs know that failure to properly decipher such letters can have tragic consequences.

It’s about time that trusts review their discharge policies in a way that benefits patients and GPs.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Azeem Majeed

    Good discharge planning is essential for patients, carers and the NHS. This includes ensuring that discharge arrangements are discussed with patients, family members and carers; and that they are given a copy of the discharge summary. There should also be good coordination between the hospital, community health services, general practices, and the providers of social care services.

    Patients at high risk of complications or readmission should be followed up to ensure that the discharge arrangements are working well. It’s also essential to ensure that that any outstanding test results at discharge are obtained and acted upon.

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  • Discharge letters need to stop being a 20 page profoma which is designed to cover the hospitals back medico legally and instead be a letter between two responsible clinicians handing over care between one another

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  • DrRubbishBin

    Let's talk about 111 and OOH letters too. They are often next to useless, with paragraph after paragraph of pre-written pro-forma rubbish stating what the patient did NOT have wrong with them and hidden away at the bottom of page 2 a tiny sentence saying 'patient advised to see their GP within 24 hours' Time wasting , unhelpful and short of letting us know the patient called 111 almost always clinically useless. An exercise in 111 legal arse covering - at times actually detrimental to the thinking of the Dr receiving it and consequently the patients care.

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  • we get letters stating NOTHING except that the patient was admitted, when they were not, and vice versa on occasions!

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