Information transfer at hospital discharge: A systematic review

Sharma Kattel, Dennis M. Manning, Patricia J. Erwin, Harrison Wood, Deanne T. Kashiwagi, Mohammad Hassan Murad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background Prompt, complete, and accurate information transfer at the time of discharge between hospital-based and primary care providers (PCPs) is needed for the provision of safe and effective care. Purpose of the Study To evaluate timeliness, quality, and interventions to improve timeliness and quality of hospital discharge summaries. Data Sources PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Scopus database published in English between January 2007 and February 2014 were searched. We also hand-searched bibliographies of relevant articles. Study Selection Observational studies investigating transfer of information at hospital discharge (n = 7) and controlled studies evaluating interventions to improve timeliness and quality of discharge information (n = 12) were included. Data Extraction We extracted data on availability, timeliness, and content of hospital discharge summaries and on the effectiveness of interventions targeting discharge summaries. Results of studies are presented narratively and using descriptive statistics. Data Synthesis Across the studies, discharge summaries were completed within 48 hours in a median of 67% and were available to PCPs within 48 hours only 55% of the time. Most of the time, discharge summaries included demographics, primary diagnosis, hospital course, and discharge instructions. However, information was limited to pending test results (25%), diagnostic tests performed (60%), and postdischarge medications (78%). In 6 interventional studies, implementation of electronic discharge summaries was associated with improvement in timeliness but not quality. Conclusions Delayed or insufficient transfer of discharge information between hospital-based providers and PCPs remains common. Creation of electronic discharge summaries seems to improve timeliness and availability but does not consistently improve quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E25-E33
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • discharge information
  • hospital-based provider
  • hospitalist
  • information transfer
  • primary care provider

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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