Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 9, pp 995–1001 | Cite as

Electronic Versus Dictated Hospital Discharge Summaries: a Randomized Controlled Trial

  • David M. Maslove
  • Richard E. Leiter
  • Joshua Griesman
  • Corinne Arnott
  • Ophyr Mourad
  • Chi-Ming Chow
  • Chaim M. BellEmail author
Original Article



Patient care transitions are periods of enhanced risk. Discharge summaries have been used to communicate essential information between hospital-based physicians and primary care physicians (PCPs), and may reduce rates of adverse events after discharge.


To assess PCP satisfaction with an electronic discharge summary (EDS) program as compared to conventional dictated discharge summaries.


Cluster randomized trial.


Four medical teams of an academic general medical service.


The primary endpoint was overall discharge summary quality, as assessed by PCPs using a 100-point visual analogue scale. Other endpoints included housestaff satisfaction (using a 100-point scale), adverse outcomes after discharge (combined endpoint of emergency department visits, readmission, and death), and patient understanding of discharge details as measured by the Care Transition Model (CTM-3) score (ranging from 0 to 100).


209 patient discharges were included over a 2-month period encompassing 1 housestaff rotation. Surveys were sent out for 188 of these patient discharges, and 119 were returned (63% response rate). No difference in PCP-reported overall quality was observed between the 2 methods (86.4 for EDS vs. 84.3 for dictation; P = 0.53). Housestaff found the EDS significantly easier to use than conventional dictation (86.5 for EDS vs. 49.2 for dictation; P = 0.03), but there was no difference in overall housestaff satisfaction. There was no difference between discharge methods for the combined endpoint for adverse outcomes (22 for EDS [21%] vs. 21 for dictation [20%]; P = 0.89), or for patient understanding of discharge details (CTM-3 score 80.3 for EDS vs. 81.3 for dictation; P = 0.81)


An EDS program can be used by housestaff to more easily create hospital discharge summaries, and there was no difference in PCP satisfaction.


care transitions medical informatics electronic health records randomized controlled trial hospital discharge 



Dr. Bell is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canadian Patient Safety Institute chair in Patient Safety and Continuity of Care. This study was funded by the University Of Toronto Chair of Medicine Quality Partners Program, and by a summer student grant from Li Ka-Shing Knowledge Institute, and Keenan Research Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital. The funding agencies had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. Our thanks to the Information Technology department at St. Michael’s Hospital for their help and support, and to Dr. Rosane Nisenbaum (Keenan Research Center), who provided additional statistical analysis.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Maslove
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Richard E. Leiter
    • 5
  • Joshua Griesman
    • 5
  • Corinne Arnott
    • 5
  • Ophyr Mourad
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Chi-Ming Chow
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Chaim M. Bell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of MedicineSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Health Policy Management and EvaluationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.The Institute for Clinical Evaluative SciencesTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada

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