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Diabetes hospitalisations ‘reduced’ by double-checking medications

By Editor
18th September 2018
Inpatient, Pharmaceutical Research

Double-checking a medication list of a person with diabetes in an electronic health record system may reduce admission to hospital, an American study has suggested.

The conclusion came following a review of assessed medication reconciliation programmes at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in research published by Diabetes Care.

Dr Alexander Turchin, who led the study, said: “Lists of medications often don’t match what the patient is actually taking. Data entry errors, as well as medications prescribed by other practitioners that we’re unaware of, can cause those discrepancies.”

These discrepancies can lead to medication errors, including omissions, duplications, improper doses and drug interactions that can sometimes have serious health consequences, Dr Turchin added.

The team were not able to fully understood how common these discrepancies were, but two studies cited in the paper put the chance at 53.6 percent in 2005  and 41.3 percent in 2008. In one 2014 study cited, four out of five referral letters for 300 patients at a certain diabetes centre each contained at least one medication discrepancy.

Dr Turchin and his researchers used patient records from January 2000 through June 2014 to study whether medication reconciliation affected health outcomes for people with diabetes.

They examined the instances of medical reconciliation – when a clinician confirmed that a patient’s medications were correct – and the patient’s subsequent hospital visits in six-month periods. Patients typically took between one and two diabetes medications and visited primary care four times per assessment period.

The researchers found that clinicians reconciled diabetes medications in 67 percent of assessment periods, and that reconciliation of outpatient diabetes medications was associated with fewer subsequent hospitalisations and A&E visits. They did not find the same correlation with reconciliation of non-diabetes medications the patients were on.

According to the paper, extrapolating these findings, reconciling diabetes medications could save up to $6.7 billion annually and prevent rare but serious adverse reactions.

Dr Turchin concluded: “Our results suggest that reconciling diabetes medications could improve patient outcomes and decrease health care costs.”

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