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After every surgery, surgeons send their patients home with discharge instructions. The information is intended to educate the patients about their postoperative care and how to safely care for themselves upon returning home. Each surgeon reviews and approves the discharge instructions before they are given to their patients. This information is once again reviewed by the patient’s nurse before the patient leaves the hospital.

Within a large hospital, there are often several surgeons within each specialty that perform the same surgeries. The department of Otolaryngology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is no exception. Within otolaryngology there are several subspecialties. At Jefferson’s University campus hospital, these subspecialties consist of rhinology, otology, head and neck, plastics, and laryngology. Currently there are three rhinologists, two otologists, six head and neck surgeons, three plastic surgeons, and three laryngologists.

Within the department, there has been a movement towards standardizing discharge instructions for every subspecialty. The belief is that if every surgeon that performs the same operation comes to an agreement with postoperative care, there will be less confusion among the nurses and residents who are often the first-line medical staff responsible for answering patient questions. Among the subspecialties within our department and institution, some have already standardized their discharge instructions while some have not.

As residents, we answer home call questions from patients from 5pm to 8am every weekday and at all times over the weekends. It was our goal to determine if patients who received standardized postoperative discharge instructions had less postoperative questions over these time periods than those patients who had not. This would allow us to reflect on our care of patients in the postoperative setting and see if patients were more educated about their care if they received standardized postoperative instructions.

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patient education, patient safety, standardized discharge instructions, surgery, post-operative


Medicine and Health Sciences | Surgery


Presented at the 2018 House Staff Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Conference

Standardized Discharge Instructions and their Impact on Post Operative Patient Knowledge

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Surgery Commons