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Initiative seeks to anticipate discharge dates for patients

Nov. 21, 2013, 9:10 AM

An initiative is afoot to document each patient’s anticipated date of discharge in StarPanel (the electronic medical record system) upon admission to Vanderbilt University Hospital, then update it daily and remind patients of it daily.

StarPanel users have a choice of entering a specific date or choosing from a pick list: today, tomorrow, two to three days, four to seven days, more than seven days. The estimate will automatically be displayed atop the electronic nursing flow sheet.

The initiative began with trials in Orthopaedics and Geriatrics, and has since spread to Neurosurgery. It will be house-wide by spring, according to VUH Associate Chief of Staff Stephan Russ, M.D., MPH.

Clinicians are prone to become a bit anxious when asked for an anticipated discharge date, Russ noted.

“We realize it’s not a science, but we do need the physician’s estimate, because without that information teams are much less able to help patients make arrangements for a smooth transition. This is another step down the path of better integrating nurses, physicians and staff into a cohesive care team. Anyone who has had a loved one in the hospital knows that uncertainty around the discharge date adds to the difficulty. We want to make an inherently stressful situation less stressful,” he said.

The estimate is the attending clinician’s to make, but others can enter the information into StarPanel on behalf of the attending and undertake the daily conversation with the patient.

The initiative is supported by the Patient Flow Center and Transitions Management.

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