A systematic review on the effect of the organisation of hospital discharge on patient health outcomes.
BMJ Open. 2016 Dec 21;6(12):e012287
Authors: Couturier B, Carrat F, Hejblum G
OBJECTIVE: The transition from hospital to home represents a key step in the management of patients and several problems related to this transition may arise, with potential adverse effects on patient health after discharge. The purpose of our study was to explore the association between components of the hospital discharge process including subsequent continuity of care and patient outcomes in the post-discharge period.
DESIGN: Systematic review of observational and interventional studies.
SETTING: We conducted a combined search in the Medline and Web of Science databases. Additional studies were identified by screening the bibliographies of the included studies. The data collection process was conducted using a standardised predefined grid that included quality criteria.
PARTICIPANTS: A standard patient population returning home after hospitalisation.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: Adverse health outcomes occurring after hospital discharge.
RESULTS: In the 20 studies fulfilling our eligibility criteria, the main discharge-process components explored were: discharge summary (n=2), discharge instructions (n=2), drug-related problems at discharge (n=4), transition from hospital to home (n=5) and continuity of care after hospital discharge (n=7). The major subsequent patient health outcomes measured were: rehospitalisations (n=18), emergency department visits (n=8) and mortality (n=5). Eight of the 18 studies exploring rehospitalisations and two of the eight studies examining emergency department visits reported at least one significant association between the discharge process and these outcomes. None of the studies investigating patient mortality reported any significant such associations between the discharge process and these outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Irrespective of the component of the discharge process explored, the outcome considered (composite or not), the sample size and the study design, no consistent statistical association between hospital discharge and patient health outcome was identified. This systematic review highlights a wide heterogeneity between studies, especially in terms of the component(s) of the hospital discharge process investigated, study designs, outcomes and follow-up durations.
PMID: 28003282 [PubMed - in process]