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ABSTRACT: A discharge summary should be sent to the primary care physicians to ensure adequate follow-up of patients after discharge from hospital. It should arrive in due time and its content should serve its purpose.
We identified six criteria to be used for quality evaluation of discharge summary content and format. Two general practitioners and two hospital physicians applied the criteria in an evaluation of 50 consecutive discharge summaries from a department of internal medicine. The six criteria were given a score from 1 to 4 for each discharge summary.
The scores showed only a modest inter-rater agreement between the four evaluators. The hospital physicians tended to give higher scores than primary care physicians. The inter-rater agreement was best for information about medicines (mean weighted kappa 0.17) and ortograhy (mean weighted kappa 0.13). Collectively, the evaluators judged the discharge summaries to be of overall fair to good quality, although 44% of the summaries were given a poor score for at least one criterion. We suggest ways to ensure high quality content in discharge summaries.
Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening 05/2007; 127(8):1049-52.