Deficits in communication and information transfer between hospital-based and primary care physicians: implications for patient safety and continuity of care.
Patients discharged from the hospital experience an unacceptably high rate of medical errors. Prior research suggests that suboptimal communication between hospital physicians and outpatient physicians could contribute to these problems. This study systematically reviewed the literature to determine the frequency of communication problems between physicians at hospital discharge and to identify interventions that ameliorated this problem. The investigators found that direct communication occurred rarely, and the primary means of communication (the dictated discharge summary) generally was not available in a timely fashion and often contained inadequate information for proper follow-up care. Based on this review, the authors provide suggestions for standardizing information transfer at discharge and improving the timeliness of communication.