Improving the patient experience in the Emergency Department Short Stay Unit

Deb Leach, Kellie Vivekanantham, Alex Kwong, Emogene S. Aldridge, Paul G. Buntine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Background: To explore whether giving patients admitted to the Short Stay Unit (SSU) in the Emergency Department (ED) their medical notes improved patient understanding of key information. Methods: A two armed non-blinded randomised controlled trial was performed, with patients enrolled on admission to the SSU from the ED. The intervention was provision of a copy of the patient's medical notes both on admission to SSU and on discharge, together with a plain English statement about their medical condition and a detailed care plan. Control patients were provided with standard care (verbal information). Patients were surveyed in SSU and followed up two weeks post discharge via telephone interview. Treating clinicians, in both the ED and SSU, were surveyed to establish acceptability of the intervention. Results: Two hundred patients were enrolled, with 176 completing the study. The intervention group found the information provided more helpful (p = 0.048) and understood their condition and treatment plan better than the control group (p = 0.034). All other data points, despite a positive trend towards the intervention, were statistically insignificant. Conclusions: This study suggests that this simple intervention may positively contribute to the patient experience, with no discernible negative effect on the overall delivery of safe and efficient healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-271
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Emergency Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Discharge
  • discharge advice
  • Patient centred care

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