Patient Interviews Reduce Drug Errors

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A new study has shown that hospitalscan decrease medication errors byhaving pharmacists interview patientsto get a complete medical history. Pharmacistsand pharmacy students atNorthwestern Memorial Hospital inChicago, Ill, interviewed 204 patientswithin 24 to 48 hours of admissionbetween August 2002 and July 2003.During the interviews, the researchersidentified and resolved any discrepanciesbetween the patients' medicalrecord, their admission profile, and theiractual medication regimen, includingvitamins and herbal supplements andmedications taken before admission.

Reporting in the American Journal ofHealth-System Pharmacy (August 15,2004), the researchers found that morethan half of the patients had discrepanciesin their medication histories. Ofthose discrepancies, 22% could haveresulted in patient harm during hospitalizationand 59% could have causedharm if the error had continued afterthe patient was discharged. Theauthors said that the study cost an estimated$5000 in pharmacists' salariesbut saved $39,000 in hospital coststhrough error prevention.