Date of Graduation

Winter 12-13-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Dr. KT Waxman

Second Advisor

Dr. Marjorie Barter


Unnecessary delays in discharge planning can extend the length of stay (LOS) and add non-reimbursable days for socially and medically complex patients thereby increasing the financial burden to healthcare organizations. The literature supports enhanced discharge communication strategies and the use of checklists to facilitate safe and timely discharges. Following root cause analyses of significant discharge delays, one hospital identified gaps in communication as key precursors associated with discharge planning breakdown when discharging patients to skilled nursing facilities. Review of these events demonstrated the need for concurrent communication strategies between multidisciplinary care team members in planning for complex discharges.

Following a complete assessment of the current discharge planning process, a web-based interactive discharge checklist was designed, implemented and evaluated in the attempt to provide guided communications to the essential partners of the patient’s team in an effort to reduce LOS and readmissions. After a six-month rollout of the new technology and concomitant procedures, the analyses revealed improvement in both the patient’s perception of discharge planning and the ability to discharge patients by noon. Results for LOS and readmission demonstrated inconsistent improvement. The use of an electronic checklist as a communication tool did reduce variability in discharge procedures and provided for continuity in handoff communication between team members. Staff agreed it promoted continuity and improved efficiency.