BACKGROUND: Hospital discharge delays can negatively affect patient flow and hospital charges. Our primary aim was to increase the percentage of acute care cardiology patients discharged within 2 hours of meeting standardized medically ready (MedR) discharge criteria. Secondary aims were to reduce length of stay (LOS) and lower hospital charges. METHODS: A multidisciplinary team used quality improvement methods to implement and study MedR discharge criteria in our hospital electronic health record. The criteria were ordered on admission and modified on daily rounds. Bedside nurses documented the time when all MedR discharge criteria were met. A statistical process control chart measured interventions over time. Discharge before noon and 30-day readmissions were also tracked. Average LOS was examined, comparing the first 6 months of the intervention period to the last 6 months. Inpatient charges were reviewed for patients with >2 hours MedR discharge delay. RESULTS: The mean percentage of patients discharged within 2 hours of meeting MedR discharge criteria increased from 20% to 78% over 22 months, with more patients discharged before noon (19%–32%). Median LOS decreased from 11 days (interquartile range: 6–21) to 10 days (interquartile range: 5–19) (P 5 .047), whereas 30-day readmission remained stable at 16.3%. A total of 265 delayed MedR discharges beyond 2 hours occurred. The sum of inpatient charges from care provided after meeting MedR criteria was $332 038 (average $1253 per delayed discharge). CONCLUSIONS: Discharge timeliness in pediatric acute care cardiology patients can be improved by standardizing medical discharge criteria, which may shorten LOS and decrease medical charges.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health