Infographic – Giving Safe and Complete Discharge Instructions in the Emergency Department

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Providing patients with discharge instructions is one of the most important aspects of the ED encounter. Patients presenting to the ED are frequently anxious and physicians must convey clear explanations of their medical condition to reassure them. Even when given complete discharge instructions studies demonstrate that patients have poor retention of the information due to language barriers, poor health literacy and misunderstanding of the information.

An efficient discharging process provides an opportunity for the patient to receive information about their diagnosis, prognosis, treatments, follow-up plan and reasons to return (Boonyasai et al., 2014). The most studied adjunct to verbal discharge instructions is written discharge handouts which have shown to increase patient education and comprehension (Boonyasai et al., 2014). Good discharge instructions are time and resource intensive to prepare or produce, but once completed are a quick and inexpensive resource for patients (McCarthy et al., 2012). Despite this there are many barriers to giving out discharge instructions in the ED. A bilingual online survey of fifteen questions was shared with Quebec ED staff physicians and residents was email correspondence through the three provincial associations over a three-month period of time to identify the barriers that health workers face in providing discharge handouts to emergency department patients. Results are still pending but to be disseminated shortly.

This infographic was created as a reminder of the components of complete and effective discharge instructions.

Download the English version of the infographic here

Boonyasai, R. T., Ijagbemi, O. M., Pham, J. C., Wu, A. W., Doggett, D., Fawole, O. A., Connor, C. (2014). Improving the Emergency Department Discharge Process: Environmental Scan Report.

McCarthy, D. M., Engel, K. G., Buckley, B. A., Forth, V. E., Schmidt, M. J., Adams, J. G., & Baker, D. W. (2012). Emergency Department Discharge Instructions: Lessons Learned through Developing New Patient Education Materials. 2012, 1-7. doi:10.1155/2012/306859

Kevin Lam

Kevin Lam

Kevin is a third year medical student at McMaster University. He is a junior editor for CanadiEM and has interests in medical education, graphic creation and the intersections between design, urban design and medicine.
Alvin is currently a PGY5 in the FRCP EM program at McMaster University. He serves as Director of Design for CanadiEM and has interests in knowledge translation and health innovation.