March KL, Peters MJ, Finch CK, et al. J Pharm Pract. 2022;35(1):86-93.
Transitions of care from inpatient to outpatient settings are vulnerable to medication errors. This study found that patients receiving pharmacist-led medication reconciliation and education prior to discharge reported higher patient satisfaction scores; lower readmission rates compared to standard care patients were also observed. Pharmacists potentially prevented 143 medication safety events during medication reconciliation.
Shah AS, Hollingsworth EK, Shotwell MS, et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022;70:1180-1189.
Medication reconciliations, including conducting a best possible medication history (BPMH), may occur multiple times during a hospital stay, especially at admission and discharge. By conducting BPMH analysis of 372 hospitalized older adults taking at least 5 medications at admission, researchers found that nearly 90% had at least one discrepancy. Lower age, total prehospital medication count, and admission from a non-home setting were statistically associated with more discrepancies.
Bourne RS, Jennings JK, Panagioti M, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2022;31:609-622.
Patients transferring from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the hospital ward may experience medication errors. This systematic review examined medication-related interventions on the impact of medication errors in ICU patients transferring to the hospital ward. Seventeen studies were included with five identified intervention components. Multi-component studies based on staff education and guidelines were effective at achieving almost four times more deprescribing on inappropriate medications by the time of discharge. Recommendations for improving transfers are included.
Gurwitz JH, Kapoor A, Garber L, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181:610-618.
High-risk medications have the potential to cause serious patient harm if not administered correctly. In this randomized trial, a pharmacist-directed intervention (including in-home assessment by a clinical pharmacist, communication with the primary care team, and telephone follow-up) did not result in a lower rate of adverse drug events or medication errors involving high-risk drug classes during the posthospitalization period.
Parro Martín M de los Á, Muñoz García M, Delgado Silveira E, et al. J Eval Clin Pract. 2021;27:160-166.
Researchers analyzed medication errors occurring in the trauma service of a single university hospital in Spain to inform the development and implementation of a set of measures to improve the safety of the pharmacotherapeutic process. The Multidisciplinary Hospital Safety Group proposed improvement measures that intend to involve pharmacists in medication reconciliation, increase the use of medication reconciliation in the emergency and trauma departments, and incorporate protocols and alerts into the electronic prescribing system.
Daliri S, Bouhnouf M, van de Meerendonk HWPC, et al. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020;17:677-684.
This study explored the impact of longitudinal medication reconciliation performed at transitions (admission, discharge, five-days post-discharge). Medication changes implemented due to longitudinal reconciliation prevented harm in 82% of patients. Potentially serious errors were frequently identified at hospital discharge and commonly involved antithrombotic medications.
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).
Alqenae FA, Steinke DT, Keers RN. Drug Saf. 2020;43:517-537.
This systematic review of 54 studies found that over half of adult and pediatric patients experienced a medication error post-discharge, and that these errors regularly involved common drug classes such as antibiotics, antidiabetics, analgesics, and cardiovascular drugs. The authors suggest that future research examine the burden of post-discharge medication errors, particularly in pediatric populations.
Achilleos M, McEwen J, Hoesly M, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2020;77.
Pharmacists are critical to ensuring safe transitions between acute care and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). This retrospective study evaluated the frequency of missed doses of high-risk medications after hospital-to-SNF transfers and found that 60% of first doses of high-risk medications were given after the scheduled administration time. After implementation of a medication order process including pharmacist-led medication reconciliation, the average delay in medication administration decreased significantly.
Herledan C, Baudouin A, Larbre V, et al. Support Care Cancer. 2020;28:3557-3569.
This systematic review synthesizes the evidence from 14 studies on medication reconciliation in cancer patients. While the majority of studies did not include a contemporaneous comparison group, they did report that medication reconciliation led to medication error identification (most frequently drug omissions, additions or dosage errors) in up to 88-95% of patients.
Bloodworth LS, Malinowski SS, Lirette ST, et al. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association: JAPhA. 2019;59:896-904.
Medication reconciliation is one potential strategy for preventing adverse events and readmissions. This study examined a pharmacist-led intervention involving collaborations with inpatient and community-based pharmacists to provide pre-discharge and 30-day medication reconciliation. There were indications that this type of intervention can reduce readmission rates, but further investigation in larger populations is necessary.
Following catheter-guided thrombolysis for a large saddle pulmonary embolism, a man was monitored in the intensive care unit. The catheters were removed the next day, and the patient was sent from the interventional radiology suite to the postanesthesia care unit, after which he was transferred to a telemetry bed on the stepdown unit. No explicit plan for anticoagulation was discussed with the accepting medical team. Shortly after the nurse found the patient lethargic, tachycardic, and hypoxic, the patient lost his pulse and a code was called.
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.
Craynon R, Hager DR, Reed M, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2018;75:1486-1492.
Pharmacists are expanding their reach as stewards of medication safety into the front line of care. This project report describes the pilot testing of pharmacist involvement in development and review of medication orders in the discharge workflow. A substantive percentage of medication problems were prevented due to pharmacist engagement.
Pellegrin K, Lozano A, Miyamura J, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:103-110.
Older adults frequently encounter medication-related harm, which may result in preventable hospitalizations. In six Hawaiian hospitals, hospital pharmacists identified older patients at risk of medication problems and assigned them to a community pharmacist who coordinated their medications across prescribers for 1 year after discharge. This post-hoc analysis of the intervention found that most medication-related harm occurred in the community (70%) rather than the hospital and that the intervention successfully reduced community-acquired harm.
De Oliveira GS, Castro-Alves LJ, Kendall MC, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:375-380.
Care transitions increase risk for medication errors. This meta-analysis found that pharmacist support during care transitions reduced medication errors and postdischarge emergency department visits. These results support a role for pharmacists in medication safety interventions for patients undergoing care transitions.
Although meningitis and neurosyphilis were ruled out for a woman presenting with a headache and blurry vision, blood tests returned indicating latent (inactive) syphilis. Due to a history of penicillin allergy, the patient was sent for testing for penicillin sensitivity, which was negative. The allergist placed orders for neurosyphilis treatment—a far higher penicillin dose than needed to treat latent syphilis, and a treatment regimen that would have required hospitalization.
Ensing HT, Koster ES, Stuijt CCM, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2015;37:430-4.
Patients are susceptible to various problems following hospital discharge, including medication errors. This commentary suggests that improving the transfer of patient medication history, performing home visits to follow up with patients, and collaboration between primary care and community pharmacy can help reduce adverse drug events after patients are discharged from the hospital.
Costa LL, Poe SS, Lee MC. J Nurs Care Qual. 2011;26:243-51.
This study provides a comparative description of two interventions to improve care transitions following hospital discharge. Home nurse visits uncovered 62% more medication discrepancies than those detected by telephone interview.
Schillig J, Kaatz S, Hudson M, et al. J Hosp Med. 2011;6:322-8.
Patients receiving warfarin therapy are at high risk for adverse events. Interventions to improve warfarin safety have focused on trigger tools, communication protocols, and the use of visual medication schedules. This study implemented a pharmacist-directed anticoagulation service to capture inpatients on warfarin and provide them with dosing, monitoring, and coordination of transition from the inpatient to outpatient setting. This cluster randomized trial demonstrated safer transitions in 73% more patients and a 32% reduction in the composite safety end point, which was driven by fewer patients experiencing an INR ≥ 5 (i.e., supratherapeutic levels that increase the risk of bleeding). This study adds further support to the role of pharmacists in driving medication safety, specifically for warfarin in both the inpatient and community settings. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discussed a case of a near miss due to a warfarin drug interaction that led to a supratherapeutic level following hospital discharge.
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