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Understanding and overcoming barriers to timely discharge from the pediatric units
  1. Amira Mustafa,
  2. Samar Mahgoub
  1. Hamad General Hospital, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to amira mustafa amustafa4{at}


Delays in the discharge of hospital patients cause a backlog for new admissions from the Emergency Departments (ED), outpatient clinics, and transfers from the Intensive Care Units (ICU). A variety of initiatives have been reported on previously which aim to tackle this problem with variable success. In this quality improvement project, we aimed to increase the proportion of discharged patients who leave the paediatric unit by 12:00 Noon from 7% to 30% by May 2015.

A baseline discharge process map was studied to understand the possible causes of the delays. A survey was conducted to look for the most likely cause for the delay. A data collection tool was designed to record the various steps in the discharge process for the pre-and post-intervention phases. Using a series of PDSA cycles, interventions were introduced.

The average time for the discharge process was two hours and the baseline average percent of patients discharged by 12:00 Noon was 7% of all discharges. The leading cause for the delayed discharges was late orders by the physicians. Post-intervention, there was increase in the percentage of patients discharged by 12:00 Noon from 7% to 34%. 42% of discharged patients had appropriate reasons for afternoon discharge. By excluding these patients, the percentage of adjusted timely morning discharge has increased from 36% to 70%.

Continuous monitoring and engagement of teams with regular feedback were the most important factors in achieving and sustaining improvement in the timely morning discharge of patients from our paediatric units.

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