Optimizing Discharge Summaries: A Multispecialty, Multicenter Survey of Primary Care Clinicians

Aaron M. Silver, Leigh Anne Goodman, Romil Chadha, Jason Higdon, Michael Burton, Venkataraman Palabindala, Nageshwar Jonnalagadda, Abey Thomas, Christopher O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Patient care in the United States has become increasingly more fragmented, and the discharge summary serves as a critical tool for transmitting information on a patient's hospital admission to the primary care clinician. Some guidelines regarding how to write discharge summaries exist, but few are focused on prioritizing content that is most important to optimize a patient's transition of care. Methods: We conducted a national survey across various medical primary care specialties, including trainees and advanced practice providers, to understand the priorities of primary care clinicians. We distributed the survey to 2184 clinicians affiliated with 8 large academic institutions. Our response rate was 21%. Results: Hospital course, discharge diagnoses, medication reconciliation, and follow-up sections were ranked as the most important categories with a 95.5% concordance rate among surveyed institutions. The least important sections were contact numbers for inpatient clinicians, ancillary services, weight-bearing status, and wound care. Similar themes were also identified via consensus review of the free-texted comments, adding that discharge summary style was also important. Other identified barriers to high-quality transition of care are both the limited time primary care clinicians can spend reviewing discharge summaries and lack of adequate communication between hospitalists and the outpatient clinician. Conclusions: High-yield content should be presented at the beginning of the discharge summary and conveyed in a brief, succinct manner to ensure maximal utility of the document as a transition of care tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • Communication
  • Discharge summary
  • High yield content
  • Transitions of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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