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

ting and when, then they're sort of one extra layer of protection to make sure that things go well," he said. "If they don't know what medicines they're supposed to be getting or when, then they are dependent on hospital systems to work flawlessly, and the sad fact is that hospital systems in any hospital don't work flawlessly."

Kevin Colgan, corporate director of pharmacy at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and immediate past president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, was surprised that so many patients did not know what drugs their doctor has prescribed.

"It means that evidently it was not well-communicated with them what their plan of care was," he said.

To catch medication errors, patients first have to know something about the medicines they're taking. So for this study, Cumbler and colleagues surveyed 50 adults between the ages of 21 and 89 at the University of Colorado Hospital. All were knowledgeable about the medicines they were taking before admission.

Patients were then asked to write down all the medicines they thought doctors were prescribing for them while they were in the hospital. Researchers compared that list to the actual medication administration record -- the list of medications that were being given to them in the hospital.

Medicines prescribed but not listed by the patient counted as errors of omission, while medicines listed by the patient but not actually prescribed counted as errors of commission.

On average, patients omitted 6.8 medications, most commonly antibiotics (17 percent), cardiovascular medications (16 percent) and antithrombotics (15 percent), the researchers found.

Only 28 percent of patients said they'd seen their hospital medication list, although 78 percent would like to have been given such a list, and 81 percent said it would improve their satisfaction with their care, the study authors noted.

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