Two Reports From April 2009 Medical Journal Offer Possible Solutions To A Problem Which Affects At Least 1.5 Million People Per Year
(Posted by Tom Lamb at DrugInjuryWatch.com)
The April 27, 2009 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine included two articles by researchers who have suggested some ways by which hospitals and pharmacists could work to reduce the high annual number of medication errors in the U.S.
These two medical journal articles are:
- "Effect of a Pharmacist on Adverse Drug Events and Medication Errors in Outpatients With Cardiovascular Disease" (Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(8):757-763); and,
- "Effect of an Electronic Medication Reconciliation Application and Process Redesign on Potential Adverse Drug Events: A Cluster-Randomized Trial" (Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(8):771-780).
For more about these two articles we turn to an April 27, 2009 HealthDay News report, "Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts", which was published on the MedlinePlus web site (note: site had once stated "this news item will not be available after 07/26/09"):
In the first report, researchers led by Dr. Jeffrey L. Schnipper, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, used a computer system to keep track of the medications patients were taking when they were admitted to the hospital and the medications they were taking when they were discharged.
"It turns out that we commit about 1.5 errors per patient either for the admissions orders in the hospital or, much more commonly, in the discharge orders, which is kind of appalling," Schnipper said. "These are errors with potential for patient harm. There are about three times as many errors without potential for patient harm."...
The problem of medication error starts when patients are asked what drug they are taking when they come into the hospital, Schnipper said. "Patients don't know what they are taking. You have got to carry your current accurate medication list in your wallet," he advised....
In a second report, a team led by Michael D. Murray, chair of the department of pharmaceutical policy and evaluative sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that among outpatients with high blood pressure, when pharmacists, doctors and patients communicate, medication errors decrease.
"By working closely with doctors and nurses, pharmacists can help people avoid problems with their medication for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and heart failure," Murray said. "This has favorable effects on health and health-care costs."...
"This study shows the importance of having a pharmacist actively involved in asking about how the patient is doing, what type of side effects is the patient having, and is the patients taking the medication," Grissinger said. "That is as important as the initial consultation."
We have reported previously about the various aspects of medication errors and what might be done in terms of prevention. We are encouraged by these two recent medical journal articles that progress can and will be made in reducing the high number of these medical mistakes involving patients in the U.S. healthcare system.