Deficits in Discharge Documentation in Patients Transferred to Rehabilitation Facilities on Anticoagulation: Results of a Systemwide Evaluation

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Background: Anticoagulation is a commonly prescribed and effective therapy for several medical conditions but requires detailed communication among clinicians to avoid adverse patient outcomes following hospital discharge.

Methods: Discharge documentation packets of a sample of patients discharged from all five acute care hospitals of the Partners Healthcare System to 30 subacute facilities in Boston and prescribed anticoagulation for treatment or prophylaxis of thromboembolic disease were evaluated. Required data elements included information on anticoagulation indication, duration, dosing, monitoring, and follow-up. Discharge documentation packets were randomly selected for reviewers at acute sites, whereas reviewers at subacute sites selected which packets to review.

Results: Of 757 patients prescribed anticoagulation at discharge from March 2005 through June 2007, duration of therapy (for unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin [UFH/LMWH]) and recent dosing and monitoring information (for warfarin) were the areas with the biggest deficits. Of the patients prescribed UFH/LMWH or warfarin, 45.4% and 16.4%, respectively, had all the required information in the discharge summary. Patients discharged from community hospitals were more likely to be discharged with all the information needed for the use of warfarin (Odds Ratio [OR], 2.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20–5.46) or UFH/LMWH (OR, 2.97; 95% CI, 1.98–4.44) than patients discharged from academic medical centers.

Discussion: Important information to safely prescribe anticoagulation after discharge was often missing from the discharge summaries of patients transferred from acute hospitals to subacute facilities. Future research should focus on developing, implementing, and evaluating quality improvement interventions to address this gap.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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