Assessment of surgical discharge summaries and evaluation of a new quality improvement model

Ran Stein, David Neufeld, Ivan Shwartz, Ilan Erez, Ilana Haas, Ada Magen, Elon Glassberg, Pavel Shmulevsky, Haim Paran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Discharge summaries after hospitalization provide the most reliable description and implications of the hospitalization. A concise discharge summary is crucial for maintaining continuity of care through the transition from inpatient to ambulatory care. Discharge summaries often lack information and are imprecise. Errors and insufficient recommendations regarding changes in the medical regimen may harm the patient’s health and may result in readmission.

Objectives: To evaluate a quality improvement model and training program for writing postoperative discharge summaries for three surgical procedures.

Methods: Medical records and surgical discharge summaries were reviewed and scored. Essential points for communication between surgeons and family physicians were included in automated forms. Staff was briefed twice regarding required summary contents with an interim evaluation. Changes in quality were evaluated.

Results: Summaries from 61 cholecystectomies, 42 hernioplasties and 45 colectomies were reviewed. The average quality score of all discharge summaries increased from 72.1 to 78.3 after the first intervention (P < 0.0005) to 81.0 following the second intervention. As the discharge summary’s quality improved, its length decreased significantly.

Conclusions: Discharge summaries lack important information and are too long. Developing a model for discharge summaries and instructing surgical staff regarding their contents resulted in measurable improvement. Frequent interventions and supervision are needed to maintain the quality of the surgical discharge summary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714
Number of pages1
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Elective surgery
  • Hospital discharge summary
  • Quality assessment
  • Quality improvement
  • Training and education


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