Jessica A. Smith, Assistant Editor
Pharmacist follow-ups paired with clear and comprehensive discharge instructions can help patients avoid repeat hospital visits, according to the results of a study published in the February 2009 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The hospital discharge program reduced readmissions and subsequent emergency room visits by 30% within about a month after discharge, the findings stated.
The researchers who developed the program, termed the Reengineered Hospital Discharge (RED) program, sought to test whether it would help minimize patients’ hospital use after discharge. After working with a nurse discharge advocate prior to leaving the hospital, patients were contacted via phone by a clinical pharmacist between 2 and 4 days after their discharge.
The pharmacist followed a script that included asking patients to bring medications to the phone in order to review them. If problems existed, the pharmacist reported the issues to the discharge advocate or the patient’s doctor. The process took an average of 30 minutes per patient.
About half of the 749 English-speaking, adult study participants were entered into the RED program. The researchers’ findings indicated that the pharmacist made contact with 228 of the 370 RED participants, and was able to conduct the medication review with 195 of them. One or more medication issues arose for 126 patients, identified during the pharmacist’s review. Of that number, 103 required corrective intervention on the part of the pharmacist.
Of the patients enrolled in the RED program, 116 were either readmitted to the hospital or paid visits to the emergency department, compared with 166 from the control group. The researchers pointed out that the study was “bundled,” making them unable to ascertain how much of a role was played by each factor in the RED intervention.
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