New statewide hospital discharge plan

Better Services

South Australian hospitals are today rolling out a new process to discharge patients aimed at avoiding unnecessarily long hospital stays and easing pressure on our hospitals and emergency departments.

The process, known as Criteria Led Discharge (CLD), will support nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and junior medical staff to engage their knowledge, skills and experience to review and discharge patients applying documented clinical criteria.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said CLD will facilitate more effective discharge practices in line with criteria which have multi-disciplinary agreement.

“We need to improve the flow of our hospitals to ensure patients aren’t staying there for longer than they need to,” Minister Wade said.

“Those patients are subject to increased risk of poor clinical outcomes such as reinfections.

They also occupy beds that could otherwise be used by incoming patients.  

“Giving a broader range of health professionals the power to discharge will ensure patients can return home from hospital as safely and quickly as possible.”

SA Health has worked with a range of employee representative bodies including the South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) to develop the new CLD policy, which provides a framework for a coordinated and consistent approach to discharge processes within our hospitals.

Dr Laura Willington from SASMOA said doctors welcome measures that are safe and will ease the pressure on our health system.

“Doctors will identify patients that may be suitable for CLD on admission and review them throughout their hospital stay,” Dr Willington said.

“This is not about discharging patients before they are clinically ready, it’s about ensuring that when they are clinically ready, they can go home immediately.

“It’s about having a plan for a patient’s journey through the hospital almost from the moment they come through the door.

“CLD will make it easier for patients to get out of hospital and easier for patients to get into hospital when they need.”

CLD already operates effectively interstate where early decisions are leading to reduced length of stay and increased discharge on weekends.

Minister Wade said the policy will especially benefit patients who are remaining in hospital on weekends when they are medically ready to leave.

“A trial of the policy in some hospitals has already seen a five per cent increase in discharges on weekends. It is hoped that the wider roll out will improve the discharge rate by up to 10 per cent,” he said.

“This is an increase of almost 30 discharges a week – or 1,500 discharges a year.

“We want to improve South Australia’s health services to ease pressure on our emergency departments and help patients get home or begin their next stage of care sooner.

“Through implementation of the new policy, we are empowering our clinicians and staff with the right tools so they can make the best decisions for their patients.”

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