Delivering Confidence

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

December 16, 2015

By Eunice Moore

During the transition from hospital to home--or a skilled nursing or long-term care facility--patients with complex medical needs are at risk for sub-optimal outcomes due to issues with medication adherence and errors. Of particular concern are patients who, once discharged, do not obtain the medications prescribed for them during their hospital stay. There are many possible reasons why: some patients lack transportation to visit the local pharmacy--or experience other barriers, such as fatigue or lethargy--and don't have friends or family members who can do the errand for the. The pharmacy may not have the appropriate medications in stock. There may not even be a pharmacy nearby. In addition, high insurance co-pays pose a financial barrier for some patients. Others may not understand the critical need of the medications, so they won't bother filling the prescriptions.

A hospital-based concierge medications program can make it simple for patients to obtain medications and learn how to take them properly before leaving the hospital. In addition, medication reconciliation education can help ensure that a new prescription does not interact negatively with medications that the patient is already taking. By ensuring that patients have the medications they need upon discharge, the hospital can:

  •  Improve adherence. Patients who leave the hospital with their medications are more likely to take them properly.
  •  Ensure medication reconciliation. Among complicated patients, complete agreement between the medication list and what the patient is actually taking occurs only 5% of the time (Barnsteiner, 2005). Medication reconciliation education can help mitigate this risk.
  •  Increase patient satisfaction. Improved adherence and medication reconciliation can lead to better outcomes.
  •  Help reduce 30-day readmissions. With value-based models grading hospital performance, avoiding readmissions is a critically important goal for hospitals as well as patients.

(Editor’s Note: This article appears in the November/December issue of Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare. Continue reading it here.)