A Government Action Required for Poor Discharge Data

A Government Action Required for Poor Discharge DataBecause of hospitals' failure to provide accurate information following discharge, more than half of GPs have seen patients put at risk, a new survey has found.

A survey by the NHS Alliance has revealed that clinical care and patient safety in relation to discharges have both depreciated over the past three years.

With 77% saying patient safety has been compromised, 90% of practices surveyed said clinical care had been compromised in the past three years because discharge information was late, incomplete, or both.

Only half of GPs said the information provided to them was complete and accurate, while a third said that they now get summaries within 48 hours of discharge.

But a third of those surveyed did highlight some improvement since April 2009 following the introduction of new standards by the Department of Health.

Just over a quarter of GPs (27%) said they were more confident their PCT is taking action, but more than half said they did not know.

Dr. Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance chair said: "The Department of Health responded swiftly when we found that discharge information was being delayed, often by weeks or months. No one in three GPs are getting discharge summaries within 48 hours. We are now calling on the Department to take action again to ensure hospitals understand that providing medical information to their patients GPs is a vital part of their role".

Punctuality is essential, but it is not sufficient, he added. It has also been found out that critical information about medicines and diagnostic tests is missing or inaccurate which further puts the patients at risk and leads to avoidable re-admission to hospital.