Medication Use Across Transition Points from the Emergency Department: Identifying Factors Associated with Medication Discrepancies

The University of Kansas Hospital Corporate Policy Manual. Subject: Medication Reconciliation.
August 7, 2019
North Carolina Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety: Medication Safety Reconciliation Toolkit
August 7, 2019

Medication Use Across Transition Points from the Emergency Department: Identifying Factors Associated with Medication Discrepancies

BACKGROUND As patients move across transition points of care, medication discrepancies are likely to occur. In the emergency department (ED), patients are vulnerable to medication discrepancies because they are in an environment in which rapid decisions need to be made under high levels of stress. OBJECTIVE To identify the patient-, environment-, and medication-related factors involving unexplained medication discrepancies across transition points after ED presentation. METHODS Using a retrospective chart review design, a stratified, random sampling of data was undertaken over a 12-month period. Information was obtained from an electronic administrative database and medical records as patients moved from the ED to another transition point of care. Medication discrepancies were classified into 2 outcome groups: (1) no discrepancies and situations in which discrepancies were adequately explained and (2) discrepancies that had no adequate explanation. RESULTS For the 12-month period, 210 randomly selected patients were included; 73 (34.8%) had at least one unexplained medication discrepancy. Binary logistic regression modeling showed 4 factors that were statistically significant in determining the incidence of at least one unexplained medication discrepancy. Benefit card holders (individuals who receive benefits from government insurance programs comparable to the US-based Medicare and Medicaid initiatives, which include the elderly, the disabled, low income earners, and unemployed persons) had 3.73 greater odds of experiencing an unexplained medication discrepancy (95% CI 1.72 to 8.07; p = 0.001). Patients prescribed 5 or more drugs at discharge from the ED had 12.22 greater odds of having at least one unexplained medication discrepancy (95% CI 5.52 to 27.08; p < 0.001). Patients who were first seen by a physician within 1 hour of a change in working shift had 3.70 greater odds of having an unexplained medication discrepancy (95% CI 1.67 to 8.18; p = 0.001). For each additional minute of wait time for a physician, the odds of having an unexplained medication discrepancy increased by a factor of 1.01 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.01; p = 0.042). CONCLUSIONS Patient-, environment-, and drug-related factors contribute to the risk of medication discrepancies across transition points from the ED. Key Words: care transition, communication, emergency department, medication discrepancy, medication reconciliation

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