Background: In the period immediately following hospital discharge, patients often experience difficulty with medication management. The problems related to patients' handling of discharge prescriptions are not well characterized.
Methods: We conducted a large observational study of patients discharged from 170 community hospitals in 2005. By combining clinical, administrative, and call center data, we were able to examine independent predictors of prescription-related issues in the 48-72 hours after hospital discharge. Issues included: not picking up prescribed discharge medications, not knowing if these medications had been picked up, not taking discharge medications, and not understanding how to take the medications.
Results: More than half (57.0%) of the 31,199 subjects in the study were women, and the mean age was 61.1 years. Overall, 7.2% of patients (n = 2253) reported prescription-related issues, most often not filling discharge prescriptions. In multivariable analyses, prescription-related issues were more common among adults age 35-49; women; patients with Medicare HMO coverage, Medicaid, or no insurance; adults with higher severity of illness ratings; and patients prescribed 6 or more medications or an inhaler. Predictors of fewer problems were being age 65 or older; having HMO or commercial insurance; being prescribed antibiotics, anticoagulants, or angiotensin II receptor blockers; and having a major diagnosis in the skin or musculoskeletal categories.
Conclusions: About 7% of patients reported prescription-related issues within a few days of hospital discharge. High-risk patients should be identified and offered additional assistance prior to discharge and receive a follow-up phone call to assess if discharge prescriptions have been filled.
(c) 2008 Society of Hospital Medicine.