Objectives Hospital discharge is a transition of care, where medication discrepancies are likely to occur and potentially cause patient harm. The purpose of our study was to assess the prescribing accuracy of hospital discharge medication orders at a London, UK teaching hospital. The timeliness of the discharge summary reaching the general practitioner (GP, family physician) was also assessed based on the 72 h target referenced in the Care Quality Commission report.1
Method 501 consecutive discharge medication orders from 142 patients were examined and the following records were compared (1) the final inpatient drug chart at the point of discharge, (2) printed signed copy of the initial to take away (TTA) discharge summary produced electronically by the physician, (3) the pharmacist's amendments on the initial TTA that were hand written, (4) the final electronic patient discharge summary record, (5) the patients final take home medication from the hospital. Discrepancies between the physician's order (6) and pharmacist's change(s) (7) were compared with two types of failures – ‘failure to make a required change’ and ‘change where none was required’. Once the patient was discharged, the patient's GP, was contacted 72 h after discharge to see if the patient discharge summary, sent by post or via email, was received.
Results Over half the patients seen (73 out of 142) patients had at least one discrepancy that was made on the initial TTA by the doctor and amended by the pharmacist. Out of the 501 drugs, there were 140 discrepancies, 108 were ‘failures to make a required change’ (77%) and 32 were ‘changes where none were required’ (23%). The types of ‘failures to make required changes’ discrepancies that were found between the initial TTA and pharmacist's amendments were paracetamol and ibuprofen changes (dose banding) 38 (27%), directions of use 34 (24%), incorrect formulation of medication 28 (20%) and incorrect strength 8 (6%). The types of ‘changes where none were required discrepancies’ were omitted medication 15 (11%), unnecessary drug 14 (10%) and incorrect medicine including spelling mistakes 3 (2%). After contacting the GPs of the discharged patients 72 h postdischarge; 49% had received the discharge summary and 45% had not, the remaining 6% were patients who were discharged without a GP.
Conclusion This study shows that doctor prescribing at discharge is often not accurate, and interventions made by pharmacist to reconcile are important at this point of care. It was also found that half the discharge summaries had not reached the patient's family physician (according to the GP) within 72 h.