Perfecting the discharge instructions

Empathy and clear written instructions results in customer satisfaction and adherence.

Creating written, digital discharge instructions are a great way to provide your customers with the information they NEED in the format they WANT. Almost 100% of customers engage with a VetCheck pet report proving that customers love it.

Why write discharge instructions?

  1. People remember 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they read and 70% of what they see and read (Rouwenhorst 1996)
  2. 80% of customers do not follow recommendations due to confusion and only 20% due to costs (Todd 2008)
  3. Empathy and clear written instructions results in customer satisfaction and adherence. (Meehan 2011)

How to write discharge instructions?

  1. Avoid veterinary jargon
  2. Keep your message to a few sentences
  3. Write at a level of a 5th grader
  4. Always forward book and confirm the next appointment in writing

Samples

The heart murmur

Fluffy was evaluated today as part of her puppy vaccination program. Today, we picked up a Grade 2 heart murmur. We recommend re-assessing Fluffy in 4-6 weeks time to determine whether further tests will be required. In the meantime, please watch for signs of exercise intolerance, coughing or shortness of breath. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

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The coughing dog
You brought Sammy to be evaluated by the Internal Medicine Service today because you were concerned about his cough. Today, we performed tests that have helped us narrow down the possible causes of Sammy’s cough. Some of the results of these tests are still pending, and we do not want to initiate specific therapy until we have these results. However in the meantime we are starting to treat Sammy’s cough with a cough suppressant. Give the medication as described above and watch for signs of sedation. Please call us if you feel this medication does not improve his cough or if he appears overly sedate. We will call you with the results of the pending tests once they are in hand, and at that time we will recommend a plan for therapy +/- additional testing that may be indicated for Sammy’s cough.

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The anemic dog
We performed some basic labwork today to evaluate Bobby’s systemic health. We found that he has some changes in his red blood cells – they are mildly decreased in number (anemia). We see that his bone marrow is making an effort to produce more blood cells, but we are worried that Bobby may have some intestinal bleeding that is causing his anemia. Bobby has a history of aspirin administration, which is a drug that can increase the risk of intestinal bleeding. In addition, there is a small amount of digested blood present in his stool (dark, tarry appearance) on rectal examination. At this time, we recommend discontinuing the aspirin therapy until otherwise directed. In addition, we have prescribed some gastro-protectant medications to help treat intestinal ulcerations. Watch Bobby for signs of weakness, pale gums, increased breathing rate and effort (signs of worsening anemia), and monitor his stools for continued presence of melena (dark and tarry in appearance). Call if you note any of these signs. We would like to recheck Sammy’s red blood cell count in one week.

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Source: https://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/discharge_writing.pdf?y=15