Doctor's letter after hospital discharge

After the hospital stay, ask the ward doctor for a doctor's letter

If patients are discharged from the clinic, they should ask the ward doctor for a doctor's letter. Usually, the doctor's letter is automatically sent to the family doctor. A copy can be helpful if further treatment is undertaken by several doctors.

In the doctor's letter, the clinician informs the family doctor or specialist about treatments performed, prescribed medications and diagnoses, the Federal Ministry of Health explained in a recently published information sheet. At the next consultation with the family doctor or specialist, patients can present the clinic letter if the clinic has not yet sent a letter to the doctor treating them.

A doctor's letter can provide the doctor with important data about the hospital stay. This notes, for example, which medicines were prescribed in which dosage, what the results of diagnostic tests were, and what further treatment is recommended by the clinic.

If the patient has been given a medication in the hospital that should also be taken after the stay in the clinic, it may well happen that the outpatient doctor prescribes another agent that contains a comparable active ingredient or at least fulfills the same therapeutic purpose. This can be due to the decision of the doctor or to the separate contracts between the statutory health insurance companies and the individual pharmaceutical manufacturers. For this reason, at least one inexpensive preparation should be mentioned in the doctor's letter, if possible, that is comparable to the agent in the hospital, as it was stated in the information sheet of the ministry.

The content and scope of a discharge report can vary greatly depending on the treatment and specialization. While some reports are short handwritten, other reports can span multiple pages. In principle, however, doctors are encouraged to keep the letters as short and concise as possible. (sb)

Image: Rainer Sturm /

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