Introduction: Medication errors contribute to 8% of all hospital admissions. Minimalization of the number of information transferrals and improvement in communication may increase the quality of drug treatment.
Material and methods: The effect of introducing joint charts for prescription and administration on the quality of drug handling in a hospital setting is reported.
Results: When separate charts were used the prescriptions in the case records and the nurses' charts for administration did not tally for any of 20 patients. One year after introducing the joint charts, prescriptions for the regular medication and medication on demand were correct and signed for 88% and 48%, respectively, on a patient basis. Ninety-five per cent of the regular administrations were correct and signed. Potential interactions were identified in 15% of the prescriptions. Discharge medication was stated in 65% of the discharge letters to the family doctors. Complete agreement on admission medication between the patient and family doctor was found in 39%.
Discussion: Joint charts for prescription and administration represent a significant step towards safe and rational medical treatment. It is more time-consuming. Improvement in communication between all parties involved in the treatment of the same patient represents an important potential for further improving the quality of care, including drug treatment.