Another program has been introduced to reduce patient readmissions due to medication errors, this time in North Carolina. The Novant Health Safe Med program has reduced readmission rates among older patients by nearly half, says Terri Cardwell, RPh, PharmD, MHA, Director of Safe Med at the Novant Medical Group.
The program works like this: hospital pharmacists are given a list of patients aged 65 years and older every week who have recently been discharged. The pharmacist then calls each patient for a one-on-one drug consultation to answer the patient’s questions and ask about potential concerns or side effects.
The patient also receives a packet containing a personalized medication list, educational paperwork and emergency phone numbers. The pharmacist then finishes the assessment by sending an updated medication profile and laboratory results to the patient’s primary care physician. Thirty days later, the pharmacist repeats the call to ensure the patient is coping with the medication regimen.
“The purpose is to work with the patient to ensure understanding of what their medications are once they get home,” Cardwell said. “We want to make sure that any concern the patient brings up with the pharmacist is taken care of, including making an appointment for them with a physician, if necessary.”
The program began in 2006 and has involved nearly 10,400 patients. Recent data shows that 8% of patients who did not receive counseling from a Safe Med pharmacist were readmitted within 30 days of discharge, compared with less than 3% of Safe Med-counseled patients. Cardwell says the program not only helps patients take control of their health, it also saves the hospital money—an estimated $3.3 million in 2009 alone.
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