Patient Harm Resulting From Medication Reconciliation Process Failures: A Study of Serious Events Reported by Pennsylvania Hospitals
Keywords:medication reconciliation, home medication, medication errors, transitions of care, patient safety, anticonvulsant
Medication reconciliation broadly defined includes both formal and informal processes that involve the comprehensive evaluation of a patient’s medications during each transition of care and change in therapy. The medication reconciliation process is complex, and studies have shown that up to 91% of medication reconciliation errors are clinically significant and 1–2% are serious or potentially life-threatening. We queried the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) and identified 93 serious events related to the medication reconciliation process reported between January 2015 and August 2020. Serious events related to medication reconciliation were most common among patients 65 years or older (55.9%; 52 of 93). The majority of events (58.1%; 54 of 93) contributed to or resulted in temporary harm and required treatment or intervention. Permanent harm or death occurred as a result of 3.3% (3 of 93) of the events. Admission/triage was the most frequent transition of care associated with events (69.9%; 65 of 93). The most common stage of the medication reconciliation process at which failures most directly contributed to patient harm was order entry/transcription (41.9%; 39 of 93) and resulted most frequently in wrong dose (n=21) or dose omission (n=13). Most events were discovered after the patient had a change in condition (76.3%; 71 of 93), and patients most often required readmission, hospitalization, emergency care, intensive care, or transfer to a higher level of care (58.0%; 54 of 93). Among 128 medications identified across all events, neurologic or psychiatric medications were the most common (39.1%; 50 of 128), and anticonvulsants were the most common pharmacologic class among neurologic or psychiatric medications (42.0%; 21 of 50). Based on our findings, risk reduction strategies that may improve patient safety related to the medication reconciliation process include defined clinician roles for medication reconciliation, listing the indication for each medication prescribed, and for facilities to consider adding anticonvulsants to their processes for medications with a high risk for harm.
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