Objectives: To better characterize medication-related problems among inner-city patients after hospital discharge and to suggest potential interventions.
Patients and methods: Between August 9, 2005, and April 3, 2006, we interviewed 84 patients hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes at Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta, GA, and contacted them by telephone about 2 weeks later. English-speaking patients who managed their own medications were studied. Patients reported their adherence with filling prescriptions and taking medications after discharge, as well as barriers to and potential enablers of proper medication use.
Results: Most of the 84 respondents were African American (74 [88%]), male (49 [58%]), and middle-aged (mean age, 54.5 years). Only 40% of patients filled their prescriptions on the day of discharge, 20% filled them 1 or 2 days later, and 18% waited 3 to 9 days; 22% had not filled their prescriptions by the time of the follow-up telephone call (median, 12 days; interquartile range, 8-18 days). Transportation, cost, and wait times at the pharmacy were cited as the main barriers. Many patients reported it was somewhat or very difficult to understand why they were prescribed medications (21%), how to take them (11%), or how to reconcile them with the medications they had been taking before hospitalization (16%). About half the patients (40 [48%]) reported some degree of nonadherence after discharge. Patients noted that several forms of assistance could improve medication use after discharge, including lower medication costs (75%), a follow-up telephone call (68%), transportation to the pharmacy (65%), pharmacist counseling before discharge (64%), and a pillbox (56%).
Conclusion: Patients often delay filling prescriptions and have difficulty understanding medication regimens after hospital discharge. Interventions that reduce medication costs, facilitate transportation, improve medication counseling, and supply such organizing aids as pillboxes might be beneficial.