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Challenges Following Hospital Discharge for Children With Medical Complexity

Objectives: The transition from hospital to home is a period of risk, particularly for children with medical complexity. Our aim was to identify and address discharge challenges through execution of postdischarge phone calls.

Methods: In this prospective study, we designed and executed a postdischarge phone call for patients discharged from an inpatient complex care team between May and November 2018. The call included dichotomous and open-ended questions to identify challenges regarding health status, follow-up appointments, medications, home nursing, medical supplies and/or equipment, and discharge instructions. These were recorded in the electronic health record. Details regarding identified challenges and corrective actions were categorized by 2 reviewers and adjudicated by a third reviewer if disagreement occurred.

Results: Descriptive statistics were used to summarize these findings. Sixty-seven phone calls were completed within 1 week of discharge. Two-thirds of calls identified at least 1 challenge, and more than one-third of calls identified 2 or more challenges for a total of 90 challenges. The most common challenges involved health status (26.7%), follow-up appointments (21.1%), and medications (20%). The majority of challenges were addressed by either caregivers or the multidisciplinary team, with the exception of home nursing challenges.

Conclusions: Discharge challenges were commonly identified by caregivers of children with medical complexity. The majority of postdischarge challenges were addressed, with some addressed by families themselves. These results can inform health care providers about challenges to anticipate and suggest future interventions to mitigate anticipated challenges for a safe discharge and transition of care for these at-risk patients. 

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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
Start Page
End Page