Hospitals fail GPs on patient discharge summaries

Acute trusts need to improve the quality of discharge summaries sent to GPs, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned.

People have a right to expect clinicians to know details about each stage of their care
People have a right to expect clinicians to know details about each stage of their care

PCTs should assess whether hospitals are sending the right information to GPs in good time and they should take action when hospitals fall short of contractual obligations, the CQC said.

GPs should also report to their PCTs and to the National Patient Safety Agency when things go wrong, the report said.

The recommendations come in a CQC report entitled ‘Managing patients' medicines after discharge from hospital'.

The CQC found that only 53% of PCTs reported that GPs were sent discharge letters quickly enough to be useful all or most of the time.

GPs also reported problems with the quality of discharge summaries: 88% of practices reported that diagnosis summaries were incomplete or inaccurate all or most of the time. Around 80% said that details of prescribed medicines were incomplete or inaccurate all or most of the time.

GPs also need to improve the information they send to hospital trusts when patients are admitted, the CGC said.

Under one in five GPs included information on over-the-counter medicines patients were taking or medicines which should be discontinued in patient notes sent to hospitals, the CQC found.

Cynthia Bower, the CQC's chief executive, said that medication incidents can cause unnecessary harm and distress.

‘People have a right to expect clinicians to know details about each stage of their care, and in this day and age they are right to do so,' she said. ‘There needs to be a change of attitude in the NHS in recognising how important it is for clinicians to pass the baton smoothly between services in order to offer person-centred, integrated care.'

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