Image of Christine Jones, M.D., Image credit: University of Colorado
Christine Jones, M.D., Image credit: University of Colorado

Medical residents don’t appear to know as much about transitioning patients to post-acute care as they may think they do, a new survey has found. With discharges to post-acute care expected to rise exponentially, closing this knowledge gap is critical, the researchers say.

Among more than 230 internal medicine residents across multiple acute-care sites, most respondents expressed confidence about their ability to transition patients to post-acute care. But their answers to 36 survey questions revealed a less-than-optimal understanding. For example:

  • Only 31% knew how often patients receive skilled therapies at skilled nursing facilities 
  • Just 23% knew how frequently nursing services are available in the SNF setting.
  • Only 55% reported always completing a discharge summary prior to discharge, despite most (79%) understanding that this summary is the main means of communicating care instructions to the SNF.

Upper-level residents were more likely to respond that they knew how much therapy patients received at a SNF. But post-acute care knowledge didn’t otherwise vary at all by residency year or experience level, reported Christine D. Jones, M.D., of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.

Insufficient understanding about post-acute care and poor communication at hospital discharge can lead to unsafe transitions, she and her colleagues cautioned. Developing resident curricula to boost this knowledge “has the potential to have significant impact by influencing patient care practices during and beyond residency training,” the authors concluded. 

The study was published in the November issue of JAMDA.