To design and implement a discharge timeout checklist, and to assess its effects on patients' understanding as well as the potential impact on preventable medical errors surrounding hospital discharges to home.
Based on the structure successfully used for surgical procedures and using the Model for Improvement framework, we designed a discharge checklist to review and assess patients' understanding of discharge medications, catheters, home care plans, follow-up, symptoms, and who to call with problems after discharge. In parallel, we developed a process of integrating the checklist into the discharge process after routine discharge procedures were completed. We used the checklists to assess patients' level of understanding and need for additional education as well as changes in discharge documentation; we also noted whether good catches of significant errors in the discharge process occurred.
Over 6 months of study, 190 discharge timeouts out of 429 eligible discharges were completed. Additional education was provided in 53 of 190 discharge timeouts (27.8%), with 62% of this education being related to medications. Twenty-one (11.1%) discharge timeouts resulted in at least one change to the discharge documentation or a good catch.
A multidisciplinary discharge timeout directly involving the patient can be effective in targeting additional areas for patient education and in potentially reducing preventable adverse events.