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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Structured handoffs can reduce communication problems that contribute to medical error. This magazine article reports on how I-PASS implementation can help enhance the quality and completeness of handoffs, highlights the need for pharmacists to be more engaged in handoff improvement, and offers insights for enhancing their role in the process. In a past PSNet interview, Dr. Amy Starmer discussed the implementation and findings of the landmark I-PASS study.
Medication errors continue to be a worldwide patient safety challenge that requires both systems and individual practice strategies for improvement. This magazine article describes how pharmacists can address failures associated with processing, dosing, care transitions, and information sharing to prevent medication errors.
Pevnick JM, Nguyen C, Jackevicius CA, et al. BMJ Qual Saf. 2018;27:512-520.
Among hospitalized patients, adverse drug events (ADEs) are a common and serious source of patient harm. Medication reconciliation at the time of hospital admission reduces preventable ADEs and is a National Patient Safety Goal. In this three-arm, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial, researchers compared pharmacist or pharmacy technician–performed medication reconciliation before admission orders were placed to usual care among patients with at least 10 medications. Pharmacist and technician reconciliation led to similarly large decreases in minor and life-threatening medication order errors. Although pharmacist-led reconciliation reduces in-hospital ADEs in research settings, real-world implementation has been more challenging. Previous WebM&M commentaries highlight the dangers of inadequate medication reconciliation in inpatient and outpatient settings.
Abebe E, Stone JA, Lester CA, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:405-411.
Handoffs present a significant patient safety hazard across multiple health care settings. Interruptions and distractions, which can interfere with handoff communication, are prevalent in pharmacy environments. This cross-sectional survey of community pharmacies found that virtually none of the pharmacists had received training in how to hand off information. A significant proportion of responses indicated that pharmacy information technology systems do not support handoff communication. Respondents reported that handoffs are frequently inadequate or inaccurate. The authors conclude that interventions are needed to enhance the quality of handoff communication in community pharmacy settings to prevent dispensing errors.
Transitions in care between inpatient and outpatient settings are an increasing concern for patient safety. Reporting on a fatal medication error that was missed by a patient's pharmacist and home health nurses, this newspaper article discusses various risks associated with hospital-to-home transitions such as insufficient case management and communication.
L'Hommedieu T, DeCoske M, Lababidi RE, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2015;72:1266-8.
Miscommunication during transitions of care can contribute to medication errors. This commentary describes an initiative to involve pharmacy students in care transitions services. Although the authors found that scheduling and training the students for the program was a challenge, 30-day readmission rates were lower for patients who received transitions of care services with pharmacy students versus those who did not.
Griesbach S, Lustig A, Malsin L, et al. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2016;21:330-336.
This study of a quality improvement initiative found that automated screening of prescribing data uncovered many potential adverse drug events. Prescribers were notified about these safety concerns, and almost 80% of these potential adverse drug events were resolved through prescription changes. The extent of patient harm which occurred or was averted was not reported. This work suggests that real-time data from electronic prescribing could be harnessed to improve patient safety, as others have suggested.
Chui MA, Stone JA. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2014;10:195-203.
This qualitative study used interviews with community pharmacists to characterize the types of latent errors that can contribute to problems with handoffs in care. Since the handoff process was not standardized, pharmacists reported encountering both information overload and a lack of accurate information when giving and receiving handoffs.
This newsletter article details the characteristics of successful community liaison programs, which facilitate transitions from hospital to home, and describes how such programs can reduce the risk of medication discrepancies.
Martin ES, Overstreet RL, Jackson-Khalil LR, et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2013;70:18-21.
This commentary details the development of a medication reconciliation program to improve documentation at discharge, which included identifying high-risk drugs, forming a team of three full-time pharmacists, and tracking patients with pending discharges.
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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