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Patients Presenting Medication Lists Reduce the Risk of Error During Hospital Admission
Date:5/6/2010

found the majority of unexplained medication discrepancies originated when obtaining patients' medication histories, a process that involves both the clinician and the patient. The outcome suggested the need for more thorough interviews, as well as for patients to keep complete and accurate lists of all medications they are, or have recently taken.

"Obtaining medication histories from patients is really challenging and errors are all too common.  For patients with language barriers, impaired mental function, and severe illness, the process is even harder.  Doctors also face time constraints.  But, part of the problem is that most doctors were never really taught how to take complete medication histories. If a patient can bring in a list of their usual medications, or if we can access the latest list through the electronic health record, this helps decrease discrepancies," said David Baker, MD, professor of medicine and chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial and a co-investigator for the study.

Researchers note that when a patient visits multiple doctors, pharmacies and hospitals they may get prescriptions from each. While electronic records have played an important role in helping to avoid conflicts, they are not perfect and may not be electronically linked to transfer information from institution to institution or between care settings.

"When you go to any ATM machine, you access your full bank records in order to complete your transaction.  Unfortunately in many instances, your doctor can not electronically access your medication information from other sources as a starting point, so an efficient and effective dialogue must take place to capture complete, accurate medication information," said

SOURCE Northwestern Memorial Hospital
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