Physician versus Patient Perception of Physician Hospital Discharge Communication: A Preliminary Study


Background: Physician discharge instructions are critical to patient care because they are the link transitioning the hospital care plan to the home. We hypothesize that physician perception of discharge instructions communication is better than patient perception. Objective: In a preliminary study, to compare patient and physician perception of communication at discharge. Design: Observational, survey-based. Setting: 330-bed adult teaching hospital. Participants: Surveys were mailed to 100 patients discharged home and 49 internal medicine physicians responsible for those patients’ care. Each physician had between 1 and 4 patients surveyed. Measurements: Patients and physicians received anonymous 5-item questionnaires concerning physician communication at discharge. Patient surveys inquired about their physicians’ communication at the specific physician encounter, while physician surveys asked about the physicians’ overall self-perception of discharge communication skills. Results: Completed questionnaires were returned by 59 patients and 40 physicians. Physicians reported a noticeably better perception of communication than their patients regarding spending adequate time reviewing the discharge plan (83% vs. 61%, P = 0.027), speaking slowly enough to understand (98% vs. 80%, P = 0.013), using wording that could be easily understood (100% vs. 68%, P < 0.001) and taking time to answer questions before discharge (85% vs. 59%, P = 0.008). Perception of discharge communication improved with physician experience for several survey items. Conclusions: This study provides evidence suggesting that physician perception of communication at discharge is better than patient perception. Future studies of larger sample size and direct patient-physician pairing focusing on patient satisfaction and outcomes are needed.

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Maniaci, M. , Heckman, M. and Dawson, N. (2014) Physician versus Patient Perception of Physician Hospital Discharge Communication: A Preliminary Study. Open Journal of Internal Medicine, 4, 101-107. doi: 10.4236/ojim.2014.44016.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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