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 Nearly 10,000 children are discharged from U.S. hospitals every day, yet no widely used pediatric standards for discharge care exist. How can hospitals make their post-hospital care better? A new study in JAMA Pediatrics offers guidelines.

The study, supported by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, notes that the lack of discharge standards undermines quality of care and can adversely affect the health and well-being of children and their families after they leave the hospital. (Email for a copy of the study).

A related editorial provides a parent’s perspective:

“The issue of discharge is incredibly important to patients and families. From the moment parents walk through the doors, they are already thinking about when they will go home and what that will mean.”

The researchers, led by Dr. Jay Berry of Boston Children’s Hospital, outline a framework for discharge care that begins at the time of admission, involves the entire care team, engages the child’s family, acknowledges the family’s circumstances at home, provides clear and comprehensive documentation and follows up with the family after discharge.

“Without doubt—for reasons ranging from patient safety to parental satisfaction and from payor reimbursement to regulatory requirements—the time has come to focus on, standardize, and improve the pediatric hospitalization discharge process,” the authors write.

As another accompanying editorial (email for a copy) in JAMA Pediatrics notes:

“Berry and coauthors provide us a framework around which to develop a more reliable process for the safe and timely discharge of pediatric patients…Whereas many may conceptualize the purpose of hospitalization as providing a set of treatments for an injury or illness, the recommendations by these authors have us think about the purpose in a somewhat broader way. As the authors seemed to suggest, if our purpose is to facilitate a patient’s safe return home in the best possible state with the least likelihood of returning, then the primary elements of the framework follow naturally.”

For more information about the pediatric discharge framework, contact