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Parental Understanding of Hospital Course and Discharge Plan

Objectives: Hospital discharge marks an important transition in care from the inpatient team to the family and primary care provider. Parents must know the hospital course and discharge plan to care for their child at home and provide background for future providers. Our study aimed to determine parental knowledge of key aspects of their child's hospital course and discharge plan and to identify markers of increased risk for incomplete or incorrect knowledge among participants. Methods: We conducted a descriptive prospective cohort study of parents within 24 hours of hospital discharge. The primary outcome was concordance of parent responses to verbal interview questions about their child's hospital treatment, laboratory testing, imaging, procedures and discharge plan with the medical record. Results: Of 174 participants, 15% felt less than "completely prepared" to explain the hospital course to their primary care provider or to provide care after discharge. There was >83% overall concordance with interview responses and the medical record, with concordance higher for hospital course events than discharge plan. There were few significant differences in understanding between trainee-based teams and the attending physician-run unit. No patient or family characteristics were consistently associated with poor understanding of hospital course or discharge plan. Conclusions: Although parents were generally knowledgeable about hospital course and discharge plan, areas for improved communication were identified. Individualized counseling about hospital course and discharge plan should be initiated for all parents early during hospitalization. Methods that assess and bolster caregiver comprehension and minimize dependence on written instructions may help with transition to outpatient care.
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Key Information

Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
American Academy of Pediatrics
Publication Year
Issue Number
Journal Titles
Hospital Pediatrics
Volume Number
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