Patients leave hospital without meds

After discharging patients, there is a great risk of care drop off. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that after discharge from acute-care hospitals, patients are especially susceptible to prescription errors of omission, including the unintentional discontinuation of medications. The odds of failing to adhere to medications were even higher for patients who were in the ICU.

Researchers looked at nearly 400,000 records of senior patients with chronic conditions, including patients admitted to the ICU, patients hospitalized without admission, and non-hospitalized patients. They found that patients who were admitted to the hospital, especially in the ICU, were more likely to discontinue medication than patients who never were in the hospital. What's worse is that in a one-year follow up, patients who discontinued their meds had a higher risk for an emergency department visit, emergent hospitalization, and even death, according to a press release.

This study adds to a body of other literature about medication adherence. A separate study in the American Journal of Cardiology shows that patient medication adherence cuts hospitalizations by 9 percent and reduces costs by as much as $944 in cholesterol patients.

In an accompanying editorial in JAMA, Drs. Jeremy M. Kahn and Derek C. Angus of the University of Pittsburgh recommend using comprehensive electronic health records that are available to all clinicians as a way to prevent prescription errors and to send patients home safely.

For more information:
- read the JAMA press release
- check out the JAMA study abstract
- read the editorial abstract
- read the Reuters article

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