Improving discharge procedures is a topical subject and audit of discharge summaries is an important part of this procedure. In many hospitals the summary compiled following a patient's discharge is used for two purposes: a copy is sent to the general practitioner to provide details of the patient's illness and management, and a copy is filed in the hospital notes as a record of the admission. Discharge summaries often fail to meet the needs of either psychiatrist or GP. Using a questionnaire study, we have recently demonstrated that GPs and psychiatrists have different requirements from discharge summaries (Craddock & Craddock, 1989). The present study, which examines the content of a sample of discharge summaries from a large psychiatric hospital, was conducted to identify potentially important items of information which are consistently poorly covered in psychiatric summaries.
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