Report Finds Medication Errors in Chronic Drug Therapy After Seniors Leave Hospitals

According to a recent study discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), that our Baltimore medication error lawyers have been following, hospitalized patients are more likely to have medication errors than non-hospitalized patients—when drugs used to treat chronic conditions are unintentionally discontinued in hospitals, especially if the patients are in a hospital’s intensive care unit.

The study reportedly showed that transitions in healthcare can increase a patient’s chances for medical errors that stem from inaccurate or incomplete communication between the hospital staff, the primary care physician, and the patient—causing an interruption or discontinuation of medications that aim to help treat patients’ chronic diseases on a long term basis.

According to the authors, the problem of medication errors and the unintentional discontinuation of drugs can happen during hospital stays, transfers and discharge. Treatment in intensive care units can also increase the risk of medication errors of omission as the healthcare providers are focused on emergency care and may engage in the practice of discontinuing a medication used for chronic illnesses during a time of critical illness.

The medication error study followed nearly 400,000 patients who were older than 65, and who had over one year of experience continuously taking one of the following five drug classes: respiratory inhalers, gastric acid suppressors, statins, anticoagulant or antiplatelet agents, and levothyroxine, used to treat the thyroid gland.

The results found that for each of the five drug classes, hospitalized patients had a significant increase in unintentional discontinuation as compared with the control group of non-hospitalized patients, with ICU patients having even higher odds for the unintentional discontinuation of medication. A one-year check up with patients who discontinued their medications showed an elevated risk for death, emergency room visitation, or emergency hospitalization.

The study stressed the importance of preventing medication error injury and wrongful death by creating an accurate list of medications that the patient should take, and properly managing any medications and side-effects that were prescribed during the hospital stay with the prescribed medications that the patient was already taking—in order help eliminate medication discontinuation after a hospital discharge and find a better approach to healthcare transitions.

In Montgomery County, Wicomico County, and Washington County, Maryland, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.

Association of ICU or Hospital Admission With Unintentional Discontinuation of Medications for Chronic Diseases, Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2011
Inpatients May Have Meds Stopped Mistakenly, Medpage Today, August 23, 2011
Forget Something? Seniors Not Getting Meds They Need Post Hospital, Medical News Today, August 26, 2011

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Related Blog Posts:

New Palm-Vein Scanning Technology Introduced to Reduce Medical Errors in Hospitals, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 22, 2011
Benefits of Robo Pharmacy Technology in Reducing Prescription Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2011
Maryland Hospitals Decrease Medication Error with New Technology, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 18, 2010
Study Finds Maryland Hospitals Improve Safety and Health Standards, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 17, 2010
Study Shows Barcode eMAR Technology Can Help Reduce Medication Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2010
Medication Error Reduced By “Scanning” Patients for Electronic Records, October 28, 2010

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