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A study of the impact of discharge information for surgical patients


Amanda Henderson, Nursing Director, Education and Research, Royal Brisbane Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital, Queensland, Australia. Email:


A study of the impact of discharge information for surgical patients

Aim of the study. To establish whether the routine information surgical patients receive about the management of pain and wound care during their hospitalization is sufficient for them to care for themselves without seeking assistance from a health professional or health care agency.

Background. While there has been considerable evidence suggesting cost benefits of discharge information the health care environment is constantly changing. Contemporary issues such as increased patient participation, extensive use of technology, reduction in health care expenditure, and greater awareness of consumer rights necessitate further inquiry into the appropriateness of discharge information.

Method. One hundred and fifty-eight adult patients discharged within a week of their operation participated in the study. A written questionnaire was distributed within 24 hours prior to discharge and a telephone interview conducted 1 to 2 weeks after discharge. At the time of discharge the majority of patients had received information.

Findings. Those patients who had received information were less likely to access a health facility than those who had not received information. However, the telephone interview, revealed that there was no evidence that patients who believed they were well informed within 24 hours of discharge about the management of their wound, still felt well informed 1 to 2 weeks later.

Conclusion. Nurses need to be aware that patients who leave the hospital with little or no discharge information may not be confident in the management of their health condition and therefore may access a health facility, if even just for reassurance.