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Allison, G.M., Weigel, B. and Holcroft, C. (2015) Does electronic medication reconciliation at hospital discharge decrease prescription medication errors? International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance. 28(6), p.564-73.


Purpose – Medication errors are an important patient safety issue. Electronic medication reconciliation is a system designed to correct medication discrepancies at transitions in healthcare. The purpose of this paper is to measure types and prevalence of intravenous antibiotic errors at hospital discharge before and after the addition of an electronic discharge medication reconciliation tool (EDMRT).

Design/methodology/approach – A retrospective study was conducted at a tertiary hospital where house officers order discharge medications. In total, 100 pre-EDMRT and 100 post-EDMRT subjects were randomly recruited from the study center’s clinical Outpatient Parenteral Antimicrobial Therapy (OPAT) program. Using infectious disease consultant recommendations as gold standard, each antibiotic listed in these consultant notes was compared to the hospital discharge orders to ascertain the primary outcome: presence of an intravenous antibiotic error in the discharge orders. The primary covariate of interest was pre- vs post-EDMRT group. After generating the crude prevalence of antibiotic errors, logistic regression accounted for potential confounding: discharge day (weekend vs weekday), average years of practice by prescribing physician, inpatient service (medicine vs surgery) and number of discharge mediations per patient.

Findings – Prevalence of medication errors decreased from 30 percent (30/100) among pre-EDMRT subjects to 15 percent (15/100) errors among post-EDMRT subjects. Dosage errors were the most common type of medication error. The adjusted odds ratio of discharge with intravenous antibiotic error in the post-EDMRT era was 0.39 (0.18, 0.87) compared to the pre-EDMRT era. In the adjusted model, the total number of discharge medications was associated with increased OR of discharge error. Originality/value – To the authors’ knowledge, no other study has examined the impact of reconciliation on types and prevalence of medication errors at hospital discharge. The focus on intravenous antibiotics as a class of high-stakes medications with serious risks to patient safety during error events highlights the clinical importance of the findings. Electronic medication reconciliation may be an important tool in efforts to improve patient safety.

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