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Most Hospital Patients Don't Know What Meds They're Taking
Date:12/10/2009

Knowledge of regimen may help avert drug errors, study authors suggest,,,,

THURSDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A small study finds that even adults who know what medicines they take at home can't accurately name the drugs they're getting in the hospital.

Forty-four percent of patients believed they were receiving a medication in the hospital that was not actually prescribed. A patient who normally receives a blood pressure medicine, for example, may have thought the medicine was continued when, in fact, it was not.

Ninety-six percent of patients failed to recall one or more of the medicines that they had been prescribed during their stay, according to the study, which is published Dec. 10 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

"I don't think that's surprising at all. I think that that's the natural consequence of the way in which hospital culture is designed. Patients are given their medicines and they take their medicines," said study author Dr. Ethan Cumbler, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver and director of the University of Colorado Hospital Acute Care for the Elderly Service.

"It's actually a very different culture than what goes on in the outpatient setting, where patients actually are expected to know what they were taking, when they're supposed to take it and for what reason," he explained.

But the stakes are just as great -- if not greater -- in the hospital.

Say an antibiotic was prescribed. If the patient was allergic to a particular antibiotic and knew which drug he or she was about to receive, that person could play a role in averting the medication error before the drug was administered, Cumbler reasoned.

Or, a kidney transplant patient normally takes certain medicines to prevent rejection of the organ, but a dose might be accidentally skipped.

"If the patient knows what medicines they're supposed to be get
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