Medication errors after hospital discharge

KEY TAKEAWAY: Patients often leave the hospital with a thick stack of printed information: discharge plans, medication lists, information sheets, follow-up appointments, diet information, hospital literature, etc. The important, truly essential, information is commonly buried and not readily accessible to patients and/or their families/caregivers. Specifically, patients need immediate access to a patient-centered medication list and a patient-centered education tool in order to transition home safely.

Being discharged from the hospital can be dangerous. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]“Half the patients had medication errors when they went home[/inlinetweet], whether there was a pharmacist intervention or not,” says Dr. Jeffrey Schnipper, via a study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and the director of clinical research for Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospitalist service.

When I was discharged from the hospital after breaking my shoulder in a bicycle crash I was given a huge stack of paperwork, but very little was said to me about the medications they gave me to take at home.  What was more surprising was that nobody from the hospital called to ensure that I was taking my medications and scheduling follow up appointments.   This is a serious problem.

Hospitals have not fully embraced the that patients are consumers of healthcare and frankly it’s costing us all.   Patients want to be contacted both pre and post admission and they have specific needs, including an assurance that the doctors who treat them will be covered by their insurance plans so they won’t receive any surprise medical bills.

How can pharma help?  Certain product websites should have a section targeted at patients who might receive their medication(s) at discharge.  It should have content addressed for both patients and caregivers with printable, easy to understand language that can aid in compliance. In addition, hospitals should be calling both patients and caregivers to ensure that discharge instructions are being followed.