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Giving safe and effective discharge instructions is one of the most important parts of an ED visit. However, patient discharge instructions are highly variable across emergency departments in BC.

The infographic below, created by CanadiEM, outlines how to give safe and complete discharge instructions in the ED.

View full CanadiEM article.


Providing safe and effective discharge instructions requires significant time, and this is time well-spent as it improves compliance, and patient satisfaction, while reducing unnecessary bounce-back (and thus also reducing overall cost to the system). Sometimes we need to “slow down" in order to "go fast”. ED workload modelling and compensation frameworks should consider these factors.

Afshin Khazei

February 19, 2021 • 09:11am

Thanks Nancy for your comment, There is evidence in the ED literature of the importance of written discharge instructions. In 2020, a large systematic review assessed patient comprehension and recall of discharge instructions. The conclusion was that communicating instructions verbally to patients in the ED may not be sufficient and adding video or written information may be better. Hoek A, Anker S, van B, Burdorf A, Rood P, Haagsma J. Patient Discharge Instructions in the Emergency Department and Their Effects on Comprehension and Recall of Discharge Instructions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 2020;75(3):435-444. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2019.06.008

Jeanne Macleod

February 18, 2021 • 01:24pm

Jeanne, from a patient perspective, take-home instructions online or hard copy would be tremendous, especially now when there is not a family/friend to be with the patient and act as a second pair of ears. I know it is a big ask, when ED staff are so busy, but it may help prevent return visits to ED.

Nancy Wood

February 17, 2021 • 05:16pm

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