Background: Medication reconciliation has been recognized as an important process in care transitions to prevent adverse health outcomes. Because older adults have multiple comorbid conditions and use multiple medications, they are more likely to experience complicated transitions between acute and long-term care settings. Hence, it is important to develop effective interventions to protect older adults at transition points of care.
Objective: To systematically review the literature and evaluate studies performing medication reconciliation interventions in patients transferred to and from long-term care settings.
Methods: The literature search focused on studies that evaluated an intervention involving medication reconciliation in patients transferred to and/or from long-term care settings, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, homes for the aged, and hospice care. A search was conducted on Ovid MEDLINE (1950-August 2010), Ovid HealthSTAR (1966-August 2010), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (1982-August 2010), PubMed (1980-August 2010), The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2005-August 2010), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website, and reference lists of relevant articles were hand-searched. Two reviewers screened the titles and abstracts for potentially relevant studies. Data abstraction from the included articles was performed independently by 4 reviewers.
Results: Seven studies met the inclusion criteria. Four studies were performed in the United States, whereas 3 studies were performed in other countries. A clinical pharmacist proved to be useful in providing medication reconciliation interventions by adopting specialized responsibilities such as serving as a transition pharmacist coordinator or working through a call center. Although improvement in the outcome(s) examined was shown in all of the studies, there were study design flaws.
Conclusion: There is a need for well-designed studies demonstrating the effectiveness of medication reconciliation interventions in long-term care settings. Future studies should focus on employing appropriate methods so that their interventions can be evaluated more effectively.
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