Many patients take multiple medications every day of their lives. Sometimes doctors take away or add additional drugs to a patient’s current medications. Because of this, patients—especially those who are elderly or those coming out of surgery or leaving a hospital stay—can get confused with all their medications. This is why there is a big push for medication reconciliation upon leaving a hospital.
What Is Medication Reconciliation?
Medication reconciliation is the process of creating a list of all of a patient’s medications, which provides the patient with the most up-to-date list of medications when leaving the hospital. Many hospitals don’t have a process like this in place; however, some do, which has proven to help reduce medication errors. For those hospitals that do have a process like this in place, a pharmacy technician looks through a patient’s medical records and works with the patient and doctor to develop an accurate medication list. The technician or trained specialist also helps the patient understand the medications he or she is taking before leaving the hospital.
Because medication reconciliation helps decrease the rate of medication mistakes, there are more tools being developed to encourage healthcare workers to help patients reconcile their medications. For example, an electronic tool has been found to cut medication reconciliation errors by 58 percent, according to a recent study.
How an Electronic Medication Reconciliation Tool Reduces Errors
According to an article in Pharmacy Times, a study was conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital between November 2011 and June 2012 and was presented at the 2014 Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting. An electronic medication reconciliation tool was used upon admission, and 33,070 admissions were recorded during this period. After the tool was introduced, medication reconciliation errors were cut from 5.9 to 2.5 errors per 1,000 admissions.
The tool allows the user to see the medications pre-admission on one side of a screen and modify the list of post-admission medications on the other side of the screen, to make sure patients had the correct drug information. Researchers used this information to see if medication errors occurred and whether or not the error rates decreased after the electronic medication reconciliation tool was introduced. The findings of this study showed that medication errors decreased with the use of an electronic medication reconciliation tools by 58 percent.
Medication Reconciliation and Patient Safety
If you or a loved one takes multiple medications, it is always best to carry an up-to-date list of your medications and make sure a current drug list is provided to you before leaving the hospital. By participating in medication reconciliation, it can improve your safety by reducing the chance of medication errors.
If you suffered harm as a result of a medication mistake on the part of a healthcare worker, it is critical that you seek legal help and request at free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.