A Philadelphia hospital has drastically reduced the number of readmissions from cardiac patients with a new patient outreach program.
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital keeps its discharged patients in regular contact with a pharmacist, saving them from the cost and injury ofprescription drug error lawsuits. The initiative, which began in 2010, was loosely modeled on Boston University Medical Center’s RED (Re-Engineered Discharge) program wherein pharmacists call recently discharged patients to go over their medications orders. The RED program reduced readmission rates of cardiac patients by 30%, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The procedure is fairly simple: before discharge, patients are taught to keep a medication log detailing the names of the drugs they take, dosages, and any special instructions. Before they leave the hospital, a pharmacist goes over the paperwork with the patient and gives him information on how to reorder the prescription, possible serious symptoms, and whom to contact if something goes wrong. Pharmacists also discuss the patient’s diet and exercise regimen, taking note of any problems particular to the patient’s living environment.
The patient is also given a seven-day pillbox at the time of discharge. In the next 30 days, pharmacists call the patient five separate times: on days 2, 7, 14, 21 and 30. During these calls, pharmacists confirm upcoming doctor’s visits, discuss any questions or difficulties, and check up on the patient’s condition. This inexpensive approach saves the hospital money on readmissions, saves the patient money and injury risk, and may be the best defense against cardiac medication mistakes.
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