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The Patient Safe-D(ischarge) program used standardized tools to educate patients about their discharge needs, test understanding of those needs, and improve medication reconciliation at admission and discharge. A quasi-randomized controlled trial of the program found that it significantly increased patients' understanding and knowledge of their diagnoses, treatment, and required follow-up care.

Stolldorf DP, Mixon AS, Auerbach AD, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2020;77:1135-1143.
This mixed-methods study assessed the barriers and facilitators to hospitals’ implementation of the MARQUIS toolkit, which supports hospitals in developing medication reconciliation programs. Leadership who responded to the survey/interview expressed limited institutional budgetary and hiring support, but hospitals were able to implement and sustain the toolkit by shifting staff responsibilities, adding pharmacy staff, and using a range of implementation strategies (e.g., educational tools for staff, EHR templates).
Seen in the emergency department, a man with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus had not taken insulin for 3 days. His blood glucose levels were in the 800s with an anion-gap acidosis and positive beta hydroxybutyrate. While awaiting an ICU bed for treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis, the patient received fluids, an insulin drip was started, and blood glucose levels were monitored hourly. When lab results showed he was improving, the team decided to convert his insulin drip to subcutaneous long-acting insulin.
Triller D, Myrka A, Gassler J, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018;44:630-640.
Patients prescribed high-risk medications, including anticoagulants, are at increased risk for adverse drug events and may be particularly vulnerable during care transitions. This study describes how a multidisciplinary panel of anticoagulation experts used an iterative consensus-building process to determine what information should be communicated to relevant providers for all patients on anticoagulation undergoing a transition in care.
Following a hospitalization for Clostridium Difficile–associated diarrhea, a woman with HIV/AIDS and B-cell lymphoma was discharged with a prescription for a 14-day course of oral vancomycin solution. At her regular retail pharmacy, she was unable to obtain the medicine, and while awaiting coverage approval, she received no treatment. Her symptoms soon returned, prompting an emergency department visit where she was diagnosed with toxic megacolon.
Boockvar KS, Livote EE, Goldstein N, et al. Qual Saf Health Care. 2010;19:e16.
Addressing handoffs in patient care is a continued challenge, particularly around medication safety. Medication reconciliation was seen as a preventive strategy to handle such concerns, though the lack of proven strategies led The Joint Commission to soften its previous National Patient Safety Goal. A commonly held belief is that electronic health records (EHRs) provide solutions to communicating health information. This study compared medication reconciliation events for patient handoffs within a computerized VA system to a paper-based system outside the VA. Interestingly, there was no significant difference between medication discrepancies and adverse drug events (ADEs) in the highly computerized system. The authors suggest that their findings support a need for specialized tools to facilitate medication review at times of transfer. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed medication reconciliation after an avoidable error.
Gleason KM, McDaniel MR, Feinglass J, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25.
Discrepancies in patients' medications at the time of hospital admission are common. Performed at an academic medical center, this cohort study used a pharmacist-led medication reconciliation process to determine a "gold standard" medication list for newly admitted patients, identify discrepancies between patients' medication lists and the medications ordered by admitting physicians, and investigate risk factors for preventable medication errors. More than one-third of patients had at least one discrepancy, with elderly patients and patients with more complex medication regimens being at higher risk—factors also documented in prior research. Patients who presented their own medication list or pill bottles were at reduced risk. The medication reconciliation process used in this study is available as an online toolkit.
Cohen MR.
This monthly error report analysis includes examples of miscommunication regarding medication allergy, incorrect dosing of opiates, and misplacement of a medication patch in an automated dispensing cabinet.
Sentinel Event Alert. 2008;41:1-4.
Anticoagulant therapies such as heparin and warfarin are considered high-alert medications, due to the high potential for patient harm if used improperly. They have been associated with adverse events in a variety of settings, including in hospitalized patients and outpatients, and ensuring the safety of patients receiving anticoagulants is a National Patient Safety Goal for 2008. This sentinel event alert issued by the Joint Commission discusses the root causes of anticoagulant-associated patient harm and recommends strategies for reducing errors, including implementation of a pharmacist-led anticoagulation service. Sentinel event alerts are intended to promote rapid implementation of patient safety strategies, and adherence to these recommendations is assessed on site visits by the Joint Commission. Note: This alert has been retired effective October 2019. Please refer to the full-text link below for further information.
Cohen MR.
This monthly selection of medication error reports describes mix-ups involving insulin being administered instead of heparin and discusses issues of software and staff unawareness leading to dosage mishaps.