Multi-Disciplinary Discharge Coordination Team to Overcome Discharge Barriers and Address the Risk of Delayed Discharges

Halah Ibrahim, Thana Harhara, Syed Athar, Satish C. Nair, Ahsraf M. Kamour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Delays in hospital discharge occur when patients are medically cleared but continue to remain hospitalized. Discharge delays can result in reduced levels of treatment, placing patients at risk of functional decline, falls and hospital-related adverse events. The Institute of Medicine has highlighted timely, efficient, and safe hospital discharge as a marker for quality care. Hospitals, however, are often unable to meet discharge targets. Research has shown improvements in discharge planning through system-level approaches that integrate health care and social work. The purpose of this study is to describe the development and implementation of a multidisciplinary team intervention to overcome discharge barriers for patients with prolonged hospitalization. We also evaluated the impact of the intervention on length of stay, readmission rates and care team satisfaction and morale. Methods: A multidisciplinary discharge coordination team met weekly to proactively raise and resolve patient-related discharge issues for all patients admitted to the general medicine wards. Members included hospitalists, case managers, social workers, hospital finance representatives, and patient representatives. One of the hospital physicians facilitated the meetings. Results: Barriers to discharge included patient and family reluctance to discharge, medical delays in performing diagnostic tests or procedures, long-term care facility acceptance delays, and prolonged wait times for insurance approvals. Our multipronged approach decreased length of stay in our delayed discharge patient population from 15.45 days to 9.04 days, a 41.5% reduction, without an increase in readmissions. The healthcare team perceived the weekly multidisciplinary team meetings quite positively; 90% of respondents agreed that the meetings improved communication and increased their sense of support. Conclusion: Our intervention was successful in improving hospital processes to overcome barriers to patient discharge. We believe that similar multidisciplinary meetings can be implemented in hospitals throughout the region to decrease risks of prolonged hospitalization and, ultimately, improve hospital efficiency and care delivery.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalRisk Management and Healthcare Policy
StatePublished - 2022


  • Discharge delays
  • Discharge planning
  • Length of stay
  • Multidisciplinary team
  • Prolonged hospitalization


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