HIQA Publishes National Standard for Patient Discharge Summary Information

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority has today published a new national standard on what should be included in a patient’s discharge summary information.

Professor Jane Grimson, Director of Health Information with HIQA, said: “For patients, this National Standard has the potential to improve their safety as they transfer back to community healthcare after an acute hospital stay by ensuring all their relevant health information is available to their GP.

“Unnecessary duplication of tests can also be reduced, along with delays in patients receiving appropriate treatment. This will also be helpful for GPs, as the patient’s discharge information will be consistent, making for a smoother, safer transfer of care.”

The transition of care of patients between different healthcare settings, such as a hospital and a GP practice, carries many potential risks. It is crucial that all the necessary information is available to the relevant healthcare professionals throughout a patient’s treatment. This new National Standard provides guidance on the specific information medical staff should include in a patient’s discharge summary.

Professor Grimson continued: “Modern clinical practice seeks to reduce the patient’s time in an acute hospital to a minimum. In order to ensure continuity of care, effective communication between healthcare practitioners is required, so timely access to a patient’s relevant, complete health information can lead to improved quality of care after discharge.”

For hospital staff, the process of discharging patients will be simplified and made more efficient by this new Standard. This will also potentially reduce the margin for error as patients move between different healthcare settings or return home.

“The development of the National Standard for Patient Discharge Summary Information is an important step towards improving the whole care pathway and enabling the delivery of safe, person-centred care,” Professor Grimson said.

The Board of the Authority has approved this new Standard and it has been submitted to the Minister for Health for approval.


Further Information: 

For further information please contact: Sinead Whooley, Communications Manager, Health Information and Quality Authority, Tel: 01 8147488/087 9221941 email: swhooley@hiqa.ie

Notes to the Editor: 

  • The new National Standard follows consultation between the Authority and stakeholders including hospitals, clinical programmes and patient advocacy groups.
  • The benefits of the National Standard for Patient Discharge Summary Information include:
    • the consistency and quality of patient information will be improved
    • primary care healthcare practitioners will have access to a patient’s important health information upon discharge
    • the quality of care after discharge can be improved
    • the patient’s time in an acute hospital can potentially be reduced
    • hospital staff will have guidance on the specific information they need to include in discharge summaries
    • there will be a reduction in the proliferation of discharge summaries developed locally by hospitals
    • a standardised complete discharge summary will assist coders in ensuring high quality data for the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry System (HIPE).
  • The clinical discharge summary document can be in the form of a handwritten or typed letter or the completion of a discharge summary form. This form is usually paper based, but can also be generated electronically through a clinical information system and should provide a full and detailed picture of the patient’s time in an acute hospital.
  • Under the Health Act 2007, HIQA has a statutory remit to develop standards, assess value for money and cost effectiveness, evaluate information and make recommendations about deficiencies in health information.