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Possible Nurse-Pharmacist Teams Reducing Medication Errors

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Sep 13, 2012

A study of over 550 patients who were admitted to and discharged from the Johns Hopkins Hospital suggests that special nurse-pharmacist teams that are trained to look over patients’ medication lists to track down discrepancies between patients’ lists of medications they are taking at home and medication they are taking in the hospital can reduce medication errors.

The researchers behind this study believe that their program could make hospital patients safer and relieve physicians from the job of reconciling all their patients’ medication lists. Rather, nurses would consult with pharmacists to verify that the list of medication the hospital has on admission and discharge matches up with the list the patient is taking at home. 

The reason for this program is to minimize the risk of adverse drug interactions for patients. According to a report in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, about 40 percent of cases studied showed discrepancies between lists of drugs that patients said they were taking when they were admitted to the hospital, medications they got at the hospital, and those drugs they should be taking upon discharge. 

So many patients are taking prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs that, when they arrive at the hospital, they often do not recall all of the medication names or the dosages they are taking. However, to minimize adverse drug interactions, it is critical for nurses and doctors to know what drugs patients are taking before they administer another drug.

Because patients don’t always remember correctly and doctors don’t always have the time necessary to research every pill a patient takes, medication mistakes occur. Researchers believe that, if nursing teams and consulting pharmacists are allowed dedicated time to research a patient’s medication lists, patients’ medication errors will be fewer and patients will be safer. Additionally, researchers believe that hospitals will be glad that patients are being readmitted less frequently.

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