Selective abstraction of information and good communication are essential in the practice of psychiatry. A good psychiatric discharge summary performs both these functions and can therefore be a significant aid in patient management. The need for a good psychiatric discharge summary is no less necessary in the psychiatry of mental handicap than in general adult psychiatry. However, the psychiatry of mental handicap does differ in some respects from that of general adult psychiatry. This difference therefore should be reflected in the psychiatric discharge summary in mental handicap settings if the summary is to represent accurately the clinical process. This fact was recognised by the Medical Executive Committee of Leavesden Hospital and it was therefore decided to provide specific guidelines on the writing of discharge summaries in a mental handicap in-patient setting to junior trainees in that hospital. Below is a document which I prepared at the request of the Medical Executive Committee, and which has now been officially accepted by them. It is hoped that its publication will be of interest to readers working in other mental handicap hospitals.
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