Inpatient care to community care: improving clinical handover in the private mental health setting
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Objectives: To develop and test a standardised clinical handover discharge strategy for improving information transfer between private mental health hospitals and community practitioners. Design, setting and participants: A quality improvement intervention using collaborative, literative methods to develop a standardised discharge and outcome assessment strategy. 150 patient participants were consecutively recruited from two private mental health care hospitals in New South Wales between April and September 2008. Opinions of community practitioners and patients on the discharge process and discharge documentation were soliticited by written questionnaires and telephone interviews. Main outcome measures: Community practitioner satisfaction; patient satisfaction; documentation of discharge date at least 48 hours before discharge; faxing of discharge summaries to community practitioners within 48 hours of discharge; proportion of patients receiving a follow-up telephone call within 7 days or 14 days of discharge. Results: Both community practitioners and patients believed the intervention was positive. Between Cycle 2 and Cycle 3, documentation of the discharge date at least 48 hours before discharge remained unchanged at 50%; the proportion of discharge summaries faxed within 48 hours of discharge went from 0 to 82% in Cycle 2 and fell to 65% in Cycle 3. Telephone follow-up of patients within 7 days and within 14 days improved by 10% and 6%, respectively, between Cycle 2 and Cycle 3. Conclusions: A standardised discharge communication strategy improved the timeliness, content, and format of information provided to community practitioners. The intervention was well accepted by patients and providers.
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