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Kukielka E, Jones R. Patient Safety. 2022;4:49-59.
Medication errors can occur in all clinical settings, but can have especially devastating results in emergency departments (EDs). Between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2020, 250 serious medication errors occurring in the ED were reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System. Errors were more likely to occur on weekends and between 12:00 pm and midnight; patients were more likely to be women. Potential strategies to reduce serious medication errors (e.g., inclusion of emergency medicine pharmacists in patient care) are discussed.
LaScala EC, Monroe AK, Hall GA, et al. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2022;38:e387-e392.
Several factors contribute to pediatric antibiotic medication errors in the emergency department, such as the frequent use of verbal orders and the need for  weight-based dosing. Results of this study align with previous research and reinforce the need for further investigation and interventions to reduce antibiotic medication errors such as computerized provider order entry.

Deprescribing is an intervention used to reduce the risk of adverse drug events (ADEs) that can result from polypharmacy. It is the process of supervised medication discontinuation or dose reduction to reduce potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use.

Brühwiler LD, Niederhauser A, Fischer S, et al. BMJ Open. 2021;11:e054364.
Polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate medications continue to pose health risks in older adults. Using a Delphi approach, experts identified 85 minimal requirements for safe medication prescribing in nursing homes. The five key topics recommend structured, regular review and monitoring, interprofessional collaboration, and involving the resident.
Huynh I, Rajendran T. BMJ Open Qual. 2021;10:e001363.
Unintentional therapeutic duplication can lead to life-threatening complications. As part of a quality improvement project on a surgical ward, staff were educated about the risks of therapeutic duplication and strategies to decrease it. After one month of education and reminders, the rate of therapeutic duplication decreased by more than half.

Ridge K. London, England: Crown Copyright; 2021. September 22, 2021.

Overprescribing has attained prominence as a safety issue due to the current opioid epidemic, but it has long reduced medication safety across the spectrum of health care. The report examines the systemic and cultural issues that contribute to overprescribing and recommends a governmental leadership position to drive change and implement deprescribing and other reduction initiatives.
Green AR, Aschmann H, Boyd CM, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4:e212633.
Effective communication between patient and provider is key to successful deprescribing.  Participants in this study were asked to rate potential phrases a clinician may use to explain why stopping or reducing a medication is important. The most preferred phrase involved an explanation of risk of side effects associated with the medications while the least preferred options focused on the effort involved in taking the medication and “this medication is unlikely to help you function better”. Understanding the patient’s priorities can help frame the conversation around deprescribing.
Shafiee Hanjani L, Hubbard RE, Freeman CR, et al. Intern Med J. 2021;51:520-532.
Cognitively impaired older adults living in residential aged care facilities (RACF) are at risk of adverse drug events related to potentially inappropriate polypharmacy. Based on telehealth visits with 720 RACF residents, 66% were receiving polypharmacy, with cognitively intact residents receiving significantly more medications than cognitively impaired residents. Overall, 82% of residents were receiving anti-cholinergic medications which should be avoided in this population. Future interventions and research should pay particular attention to the prescribing of these medications.

The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Polypharmacy is a known challenge to patient safety. This collective program encourages long-term care organizations, physicians, and pharmacists to take part in a learning network to share aggregated data, lessons learned, and educational opportunities to reduce medication adverse events through safe deprescribing. 
Fudge N, Swinglehurst D. BMJ Open. 2021;11:e042504.
Polypharmacy – particularly in older adults – can increase the risk of adverse drug events. Based on an ethnographic case study of community pharmacies in England, the authors found that polypharmacy was a pervasive problem but rarely discussed as a safety concern and not actively challenged by pharmacy staff.
Dellinger JK, Pitzer S, Schaffler-Schaden D, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2020;20:506.
Polypharmacy in older adults is common and may increase risk of medication-related adverse events. This study found that an intervention combining educational training, tailored health information technology, and a therapy check process improved medication appropriateness in nursing home residents.  
Rieckert A, Reeves D, Altiner A, et al. BMJ. 2020;369:m1822.
This study evaluated the impact of an electronic decision support tool comprising a comprehensive drug review to support deprescribing and reduce polypharmacy in elderly adults. Results indicate that the tool did reduce the number of prescribed drugs but did not significantly reduce unplanned hospital admissions or death after 24 months.
Balsom C, Pittman N, King R, et al. Int J Clin Pharm. 2020:Epub Jun 3.
Polypharmacy is one risk factor for medication errors in older adults. This study describes the implementation of a pharmacist-administered deprescribing program in a long-term care facility in Canada. Over a one-year period, residents were randomized to receive either a deprescribing-focused medication review by a pharmacist or usual care. The intervention resulted in fewer medications taken by residents the intervention group after 6 months. Most deprescribing recommendations reflected a lack of ongoing indication or a dosage that was too high.
Rogero-Blanco E, Lopez-Rodriguez JA, Sanz-Cuesta T, et al. JMIR Med Inform. 2020;8.
Older patients are vulnerable to adverse drug events due to comorbidities and polypharmacy. This cross-sectional study from Spain reviewed prescriptions for 593 older adults aged 65-75 years with multiple comorbidities and documented polypharmacy to estimate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate prescribing using the STOPP and Beers Criteria. Potentially inappropriate prescribing was detected in over half of patients. The most frequently detected inappropriate prescriptions were for prolonged use of benzodiazepines (36% of patients) and prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (45% of patients). Multiple risk factors associated with potentially inappropriate prescribing were identified, including polypharmacy and use of central nervous system drugs.

Working Group on Medication Overload. Brookline, MA: Lown Institute; 2020.

Polypharmacy and medication overuse are known contributors to patient harm. This report outlines recommendations for combating medication overload. The recommendations include prescription review, issue awareness, point-of-care information access, training and industry influence reduction as tactics for improvement.
Battar S, Dickerson KRW, Sedgwick C, et al. Fed Pract. 2019;36:564-568.
Polypharmacy is common among veterans. This articles describes the Veteran Health Administration’s implementation of an electronic, portable medication management tool to reduce polypharmacy by using the principles of high reliability organizations and combining best practice evidence, interprofessional teams, patient engagement, and integration of existing medical records systems. After three-years of implementation, an average of 2.15 medications were deprescribed per patient, with the most common being antihypertensives, over-the-counter medicines and antidiabetic medications.
Huang C-H, Umegaki H, Watanabe Y, et al. PLOS ONE. 2019;14:e0211947.
Various tools for identifying potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) have been developed. This 5-year prospective cohort study of 196 elderly patients receiving home-based medical services in Japan compared the use of two tools for identifying PIMs, the American Geriatrics Society’s Beers Criteria and the relatively new Screening Tool for Older Person’s Appropriate Prescriptions for Japanese (STOPP-J), to determine the impact of PIMs on hospitalization and mortality rates. PIMs categorized by STOPP-J were associated with hospitalization and mortality, whereas Beers Criteria PIMs were associated with hospitalization only after excluding proton pump inhibitors.
Liu J, Kaye KS, Mercuro NJ, et al. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2019;40:206-207.
Never events are devastating to patients and indicate serious underlying organizational safety problems. This commentary suggests that there are types of inappropriate antibiotic use behaviors that should be categorized as never events, such as use of an antibiotic longer than is required. The authors believe that labeling these incidents as never events will drive development and application of prevention strategies.
Scott IA, Pillans PI, Barras M, et al. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2018;9:559-573.
The prescribing of potentially inappropriate medications is a quality and safety concern. This narrative review found that information technologies equipped with decision support tools were modestly effective in reducing inappropriate prescribing of medications, more so in the hospital than the ambulatory environment.
Sacarny A, Yokum D, Finkelstein A, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2016;35:471-9.
Overprescribing of opioids is a serious and worsening problem. In the United States, deaths from opioid overdoses have more than quadrupled over the past decade. Providing peer comparisons has been shown to reduce other instances of medical care overuse, such as inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions. In this study, health care providers who very frequently prescribed Schedule II controlled substances (the highest risk category for which a prescription is still legal) were randomized to receive a letter showing their prescription practices compared to their peers. There was no evidence that the letters had any impact on prescribing behaviors. The authors describe ongoing efforts to redesign the letters with the hope to enhance their influence on physicians. A past WebM&M commentary discussed best practices for opioid prescribing.