Improving the Quality of Communication with Family Doctors at the Time of Discharge

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Nabha Shetty
Dan Patton
Rajesh Gupta


Discharge Communication, Email, Family Doctor, Primary Care Physician, Internal Medicine Team, Hospitalist.


Communication between physicians of admitted patients and their family doctors prior to discharge is an important but often overlooked aspect of patient care. Physicians on the general internal medicine teaching unit at Saint Michael’s Hospital provide patients with a hard copy of a completed discharge summary to deliver to their family doctors at the first post-discharge visit. We surveyed internal medicine residents and family doctors at Saint Michael’s Hospital to determine the added value of personal communication between the physicians at the time of discharge. Most family doctors thought that personal communication was very important (67%) whereas significantly fewer residents felt it was important (37%). Both groups reported that personal communication at time of discharge rarely occurred. Both groups prefer email as the mode of communication. Internal medicine residents felt that the main barriers to personal communication were time and ability to make direct telephone contact with family doctors. Both groups felt confidential email would improve personal communication at time of discharge.