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Journal Article > Study
Finn KM, Heffner R, Chang Y, et al. J Hosp Med. 2011;6:494-500.
The disturbingly high incidence of readmissions after hospital discharge remains a national policy priority, as many readmissions can be linked to adverse events after discharge. In this study, a nurse practitioner (NP) was assigned to a resident inpatient medical team at a tertiary care hospital, with the specific responsibility of facilitating the discharge process. The NP's responsibilities included arranging follow-up appointments, performing medication reconciliation, and following up on tests pending at discharge. Although NP discharge facilitation achieved improved patient satisfaction with the discharge process, higher rates of timely outpatient follow-up, and improved resident work efficiency, it did not result in fewer readmissions or emergency department visits in the post-discharge period. The complex nature of preventing readmissions is discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M interview with Dr. Eric Coleman.
Journal Article > Study
Association of ICU or hospital admission with unintentional discontinuation of medications for chronic diseases.
Bell CM, Brener SS, Gunraj N, et al. JAMA. 2011;306:840-847.
Care transitions are a vulnerable time for patients, particularly following hospitalization when discharge communication, pending tests, and medication reconciliation are all known challenges. This study analyzed a population-based data set containing both hospitalization and outpatient prescription records to identify the incidence of potentially unintentional medication discontinuation among patients 66 years or older. Analyzing nearly 400,000 patients, investigators found high rates of medication discontinuation ranging from 5% to 19% across 5 evidence-based medication classes (e.g., lipid lowering, thyroid replacement, antiplatelet agents) for hospitalized patients. Admission to the ICU was associated with an even greater risk of medication discontinuation. While some medication discontinuation is not surprising in the setting of a critical illness that may create new contraindications to preexisting medications, both this study and an accompanying editorial [see link below] raise appropriate concern about carefully reconciling chronic disease medications following hospitalization. A past AHRQ WebM&M conversation and perspective discussed the challenges and opportunities for improving care transitions.