Published on

Most patients are happy to be home after a hospital stay of any duration. Because patients often arrive home with new prescription medications, including IV drugs, lack of coordination between providers, home care nurses, and patients can lead to danger after discharge.

Medication errors are one of the most common causes of adverse events in healthcare. Along the entire supply chain errors can occur with prescribing, formulation, and administration. From the decision to dispense, to the delivery of medication to the patient, documentation is an important aspect of prescription medicine.  According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, over 131 million people, roughly 66 percent of all adults in the US, use prescription drugs. Upon return from a hospital stay, a patient may have additional medications to take, or routine medications may have been accidentally dropped off their chart during their stay.

A recent study published in the journal of Public Health Nursing took a look at some of the risks involved with transitioning home with medications after discharge.  Study authors undertook a meta-analysis of 17 previous studies that looked at patient home care.  Some of the findings of the study include:

  • Of approximately 100 patients, complete discharge information for the first home care visit was available for only five patients.  The discharge information most likely to be dropped out was that which involved prescription drug directions.  Of the patient set, 78 patients did not receive medication information when they left the hospital. 
  • Communication with healthcare providers to request information, prescriptions, and clarification is a factor in medical errors in home care settings.  There were 22 medication errors identified due to prescriptions which were unclear.  For 20 patients, medications were not present during the first home care visit which required 25 calls to providers and pharmacists in order to obtain the ordered drugs. Delayed administration was a common medication error.
  • During successive home care visits, additional follow-through with a primary care provider was required 15 times to clarify additional medication questions.  Of those, the PCP could only be reached on four occasions.
  • Medication lists were often incomplete or unclear. Full drug information was lacking, including diagnosis, dosage, and frequency.  Allergy information was provided for only 20 patients.  A diagnosis was missing for 31 percent (303 of 984 prescribed drugs) of the medications ordered.

For many, discharge and safe home care follow-up is an uphill battle, regardless of age. Provider and pharmacy coordination is often insufficient before the patient even receives the medication.  Medication errors are too easy to make and can have devastating consequences.

If you are seriously injured through medication error inpatient or at discharge—speak with our experienced legal team about your case.

Skilled medical malpractice lawyers fight for compensation on your behalf in Baltimore and Washington, DC

Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. represents patients and their families across the US.  When your healthcare provider makes a mistake that results in serious injury, call 410-234-1000 or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.