Study of “Collaborative Pharmaceutical Care” Finds 3/4 Reduction in Hospital Medication Errors

Trinity_College_Library_-_long_room.jpgA new study, conducted in Irish hospitals and published in a British journal, reviewed the effectiveness of a “collaborative” model of managing hospital patients’ medications. The model, known as the Collaborative Pharmaceutical Care in Tallaght Hospital (PACT), involves close involvement of clinical pharmacists in all stages of patient care during their stay in the hospital. The study, which was uncontrolled, found that PACT resulted in a reduction in the rate of medication errors by more than three-fourths.

The study was published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal Quality & Safety on February 6, 2014. The researchers compared the benefits of PACT to “standard ward-based clinical pharmacy,” with a focus on adult hospital patients receiving acute care, who were prescribed at least three medications in the hospital, and who left the hospital alive. The study included 112 patients receiving care based on PACT, and 121 patients receiving standard care. They measured the rates of medication errors and of potentially severe errors per patient.

According to the description provided in the study, the primary goal of PACT is to reduce the rate of medication errors that commonly occur when a patient is transferred between doctors or departments within a hospital, or transferred from one facility or organization to another, by improving the process of “medication reconciliation” (MedRec). This involves comparing a patient’s current medication orders to the medications a patient has been taking in order to prevent omission of a necessary drug, inclusion of an unnecessary or dangerous drug, or incorrect dosages.

The standard model of care in Ireland, according to the study, does not always involve hospital pharmacies in MedRec at admission or discharge, nor during transfer to or from certain departments. The study does not provide many specific details, but clinical pharmacists in hospitals using PACT are much more involved in MedRec, starting with a patient’s admission and continuing through discharge.

Patients received PACT-based treatment experienced considerably fewer medication errors than those receiving standard care, the researchers found. The rate of medication errors at admission was seventy-eight percent lower for PACT patients, and seventy-nine percent lower at discharge. Patients receiving PACT care experienced no potentially severe medication errors at all. The rate of potentially severe errors for patients receiving standard care, however, was six percent. The researchers also found that patients age 65 or older receiving PACT care had a better quality of prescribing, because the involvement of a clinical pharmacist enabled better communication between the physician, the pharmacist, and the patient about their medication.

It could prove that PACT is an effective model for improving patient safety on a wide scale, but it is important to note that this is only one study, investigating patients in only one hospital. The researchers note that their study is the first of its kind to investigate this model of care in an Irish hospital. The hospital where the study took place, Tallaght Hospital in Dublin, has faced recent criticism for other alleged safety problems. Still, better communication between hospital staff, including doctors, and patients has the potential to make significant improvements in patient safety and to prevent medication errors that can cause further illness or injury.

The Maryland attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen represent the rights of pharmacy and medication error victims, who have suffered injury because of the incorrect prescribing, dispensing, or administering of drugs. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can assist you.

More Blog Posts:

Over-Prescribing of Antibiotics May Be Putting Hospital Patients at Risk, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, March 12, 2014
Hospital Uses “Storytelling” Approach to Prevent Medication Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2014
Hospital Allegedly Gives Infant Incorrect Dosage of Medication for Meningitis Treatment, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2014
Photo credit: By Sam (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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