27% of prescribing errors that occur in a hospital result from incomplete medication histories at admission.
22% of discrepancies could have resulted in patient harm during hospitalization.
59% of discrepancies could have resulted in patient harm after discharge, if they had continued as ordered.
This stuff is no joke, folks.
IHI advocates medicine reconciliation at all transition points: at admitting, during transfer to another unit, and at discharge. We want to follow up with complex cases; they deserve a post-discharge phone call, or two (or more). Consider creating a web portal for continuous communication, utilize smartphone apps, or consider the following options.
Printed Information Sheets
An easy way to understand medication dosages, instructions, and side effects is a properly written description of all new medications (as provided by your pharmacy). They should look professional and be ready to print at the nurse’s station, so they’re ready when you are. We should be supporting all verbal education about medications with printed information sheets that patients can take home.
There is clear evidence that bar coding dramatically reduces errors. Have this technology available!
I think pharmacist rounding is absolutely critical to an overall vision of enhanced safety, never mind success with HCAHPS scores. Get the pharmacist onto your floor as often as possible. With more sophisticated medications, or for help educating patients taking multiple medications (or those who have complex medical issues), it is ideal to have a pharmacist answer patient questions. They’re on site! Pharmacists are the medication experts; they like being asked questions and being treated as a resource. They’re not just pill-counters - they’re valuable consultants for patients and healthcare professionals.
The Take Away
We have to make medication education as simple as possible - medication errors are the leading cause of medical mistakes in the United States, and penalties for readmitting patients within thirty days are going to become oppressive. Technology is a valuable tool, but not as valuable as the skills and behaviors of staff.
Follow Us on Twitter
Like Us on Facebook