Emergency department discharge prescription interventions by emergency medicine pharmacists

Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Feb;61(2):209-14.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.04.011. Epub 2012 May 24.


Study objective: We determine the rate and details of interventions associated with emergency medicine pharmacist review of discharge prescriptions for patients discharged from the emergency department (ED). Additionally, we evaluate care providers' satisfaction with such services provided by emergency medicine pharmacists.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study in the ED of an academic medical center that serves both adult and pediatric patients. Details of emergency medicine pharmacist interventions on discharge prescriptions were compiled with a standardized form. Interventions were categorized as error prevention or optimization of therapy. The staff of the ED was surveyed related to the influence and satisfaction of this new emergency medicine pharmacist-provided service.

Results: The 674 discharge prescriptions reviewed by emergency medicine pharmacists during the study period included 602 (89.3%) for adult patients and 72 (10.7%) for pediatric patients. Emergency medicine pharmacists intervened on 68 prescriptions, resulting in an intervention rate of 10.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 8.0% to 12.7%). The intervention rate was 8.5% (95% CI 6.4% to 11.1%) for adult prescriptions and 23.6% for pediatric prescriptions (95% CI 14.7% to 35.3%) (difference 15.1%; 95% CI 5.1% to 25.2%). There were a similar number of interventions categorized as error prevention and optimization of medication therapy, 37 (54%) and 31 (46%), respectively. More than 95% of survey respondents believed that the new pharmacist services improved patient safety, optimized medication regimens, and improved patient satisfaction.

Conclusion: Emergency medicine pharmacist review of discharge prescriptions for discharged ED patients has the potential to significantly improve patient care associated with suboptimal prescriptions and is highly valued by ED care providers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / standards
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pharmacists*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / methods
  • Prospective Studies