Nursing Discharge Notes

An essential guide to understanding and using Nursing Discharge Notes, complete with a free downloadable PDF sample.

By Audrey Liz Perez on Jul 15, 2024.


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What is a Nursing Discharge Note?

A Nursing Discharge Note is an essential document in the healthcare field. It is a comprehensive record summarizing a patient's hospital stay from admission to discharge and detailing their health status and treatment plans. Created by a qualified nurse, these notes are a critical component of the healthcare communication system, providing essential information for future care planning and enabling a seamless transition from hospital care to home or another healthcare facility.

The depth and breadth of information captured in a Nursing Discharge Note make it an indispensable tool for patient care. It encapsulates many elements, including the patient's identification, the diagnoses made during the stay, the treatments administered, and the patient's condition at discharge. It also outlines the instructions for the patient's care after leaving the facility, medication details, and plans for any follow-up care.

also help educate the patient and their family about their health condition, the importance of medication adherence, and any potential signs or symptoms that need to be monitored post-discharge. It is a roadmap for the patient's healthcare journey beyond the hospital, providing the necessary guidelines for continuous and effective care.

From a broader perspective, Nursing Discharge Notes aid in individual patient care and contribute to the more extensive healthcare system. They provide valuable data for research, help identify trends, and can be used to enhance patient care protocols and hospital discharge processes.

Despite being a single document, their impact is manifold and far-reaching, underlining their crucial role in successful patient recovery and overall healthcare management.

How does it work?

Nursing Discharge Notes are a comprehensive record of a patient's hospital stay, their health status at discharge, and the care plan post-discharge. These notes ensure a seamless transition of care from the hospital to the home or another healthcare setting.

Step 1: Patient Identification

This initial step involves recording the patient's demographic information. This includes name, age, gender, and identification number. Additionally, the dates of the patient's admission and discharge are included.

Step 2: Diagnosis

The healthcare professional will then note the initial diagnosis that led to the patient's hospital admission. They are also documented if other diagnoses were made during the hospital stay. Lastly, the final diagnosis at discharge is recorded.

Step 3: Treatment

Here, the healthcare professional enumerates the various treatments that the patient received during their hospital stay. This can include surgical procedures, medications, therapies, and other interventions.

Step 4: Patient's Condition at Discharge

This step involves the documentation of the patient's health status at the time of discharge. Vital signs, physical conditions, mental status, and any remaining health issues are typically recorded.

Step 5: Discharge Instructions

This section provides a clear and detailed care plan for the patient to follow post-discharge. This can include medication instructions, diet, activity levels, necessary follow-up appointments, and specific signs or symptoms that should prompt a call to the doctor.

Step 6: Reconciliation of Medications

An accurate and updated list of medications is provided. This list includes medications the patient was taking before admission, any changes made during the hospital stay, and what the patient should continue taking post-discharge.

Step 7: Education Provided

This section details the education or information provided to the patient and their family. This can cover topics such as medication management, wound care, dietary restrictions, or the use of medical equipment at home.

Step 8: Plan for Follow-Up Care

The final section involves recording any planned follow-up care. This could include referrals to specialists, scheduled tests, ongoing therapies, or appointments.

Filling out a Nursing Discharge Note thoroughly and detailedly is vital to ensure the continuum of care. It minimizes miscommunication, helps prevent readmissions, and provides the patient, and their family is well-informed about the patient's condition and the subsequent care steps.

When would you use this Template?

The Nursing Discharge Note template is not only for those in hospital settings but also applies across healthcare services. A document is a communication tool that aids in the smooth transition of patient care from one setting to another. Here are some instances when the use of a Nursing Discharge Note template is particularly appropriate:

Upon a patient's discharge from a hospital or healthcare facility

This is the most common scenario for using a Nursing Discharge Note. The note provides a comprehensive overview of the patient's stay, treatment, and condition at discharge, assisting in the transition to home care or another healthcare setting.

When transitioning a patient's care to another healthcare provider

Suppose a patient is being moved from one caregiver to another. In that case, a Nursing Discharge Note can provide the new provider with a complete picture of the patient's medical history, current condition, and treatment plan.

To inform a primary care physician about a patient's recent hospital stay

The primary care physician, who continues the patient's care after discharge, may need to gain direct knowledge of the hospital stay. In such cases, the Nursing Discharge Note provides valuable information about the treatment, medication changes, and instructions for further care.

To provide a patient and their family with clear instructions for care post-discharge

Transitioning from hospital to home care can be challenging for patients and their families. The Nursing Discharge Note guides them in understanding the required care procedures, follow-up appointments, and when to seek medical help.

To document the patient's medical history and treatment for future reference

Over time, a patient's medical history can become extensive and complex. A Nursing Discharge Note aids in keeping track of this history by providing a concise summary of each hospital stay.


A Nursing Discharge Note offers multiple benefits for the healthcare professionals who create and use them and the patients they serve. Its use is crucial in patient safety, care continuity, and communication among healthcare providers.

1. Clear Communication

A well-written Nursing Discharge Note ensures effective communication among healthcare providers, patients, and their families. It provides a clear and complete account of the patient's hospital stay, which is crucial for ongoing care.

2. Continuity of Care

By providing a detailed summary of the patient's condition at discharge, instructions for further care, and a follow-up plan, the Nursing Discharge Note plays a pivotal role in maintaining continuity of care.

3. Legal Documentation

In addition to its role in patient care, the Nursing Discharge Note also serves as a legal record of the patient's medical history, treatment provided, and condition at discharge. It is a critical document for any legal inquiries or audits.

4. Reduced Readmissions

A Nursing Discharge Note that includes detailed and understandable discharge instructions can help reduce hospital readmissions. It ensures that the patient and their family know how to manage care post-discharge, which conditions or symptoms should prompt a call to the doctor, and when and where to go for follow-up appointments.

5. Patient Safety

The Nursing Discharge Note is a critical tool for patient safety. By documenting all pertinent information about a patient's condition, treatment, and plan for ongoing care. It helps prevent medical errors and misunderstandings that could compromise patient safety.

Who uses Nursing Discharge Notes?
Who uses Nursing Discharge Notes?

Commonly asked questions

Who uses Nursing Discharge Notes?

Primarily, nurses use Nursing Discharge Notes. However, other healthcare professionals, like doctors and care managers, also utilize these notes to maintain continuity of care.

When do you use a Nursing Discharge Note?

Nursing Discharge Notes are used when a patient is being discharged from a healthcare facility and transitioning to home care or another healthcare facility.

How is the Nursing Discharge Note used?

The Nursing Discharge Note documents all pertinent information about a patient's hospital stay, including their diagnosis, treatment, condition at discharge, discharge instructions, and plan for follow-up care. It serves as a guide for future care.

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