Patients are more likely to make medication errors at home, and doctors are more likely to make mistakes in the hospital. So who is to blame when heart patients are hospitalized because of a medication mistake?
According to new research, approximately half of all patients who are discharged from the hospital after a cardiac episode make a serious medication error within the month following discharge.
The study, which was published in the July 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Half of the 851 participants, who had been hospitalized for acute coronary syndromes or acute heart failure, had one or more drug errors within 30 days after discharge, 23 percent of which were considered serious.
Although many of the patients received counseling from a pharmacist, roughly 50 percent experienced prescription drug mistakes when they returned home from the hospital.
American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Gregg Fonarow said the study shows how vulnerable patients when they leave the hospital to go home. He also said it is vital for the whole family to be informed about proper medication dosage and administration.
"Patients, caregivers and family members need to be knowledgeable about drug names, dosing and which medications should be discontinued, and which should continued, after hospitalization," Fonarow advised. "This information should be given verbally and in writing to all involved parties. It needs to be recognized that even with all of these steps, there is still a potential for clinically important medical errors."
Dr. Adam Auerbach, who is the director of inpatient cardiac services at North Shore University Hospital in New York, believes an economic factor plays a role in some prescription medication errors. To save money, patients sometimes cut their pills in half or skip doses so they don’t have to have their prescriptions filled as often.