Characteristics associated with postdischarge medication errors

Mayo Clin Proc. 2014 Aug;89(8):1042-51. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.04.023. Epub 2014 Jul 3.


Objective: To examine the association of patient- and medication-related factors with postdischarge medication errors.

Patients and methods: The Vanderbilt Inpatient Cohort Study includes adults hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes and/or acute decompensated heart failure. We measured health literacy, subjective numeracy, marital status, cognition, social support, educational attainment, income, depression, global health status, and medication adherence in patients enrolled from October 1, 2011, through August 31, 2012. We used binomial logistic regression to determine predictors of discordance between the discharge medication list and the patient-reported list during postdischarge medication review.

Results: Among 471 patients (mean age, 59 years), the mean total number of medications reported was 12, and 79 patients (16.8%) had inadequate or marginal health literacy. A total of 242 patients (51.4%) were taking 1 or more discordant medication (ie, appeared on either the discharge list or patient-reported list but not both), 129 (27.4%) failed to report a medication on their discharge list, and 168 (35.7%) reported a medication not on their discharge list. In addition, 279 participants (59.2%) had a misunderstanding in indication, dose, or frequency in a cardiac medication. In multivariable analyses, higher subjective numeracy (odds ratio [OR], 0.81; 95% CI, 0.67-0.98) was associated with lower odds of having discordant medications. For cardiac medications, participants with higher health literacy (OR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.74-0.95), with higher subjective numeracy (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.95), and who were female (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.46-0.78) had lower odds of misunderstandings in indication, dose, or frequency.

Conclusion: Medication errors are present in approximately half of patients after hospital discharge and are more common among patients with lower numeracy or health literacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Health Literacy / standards*
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medication Errors / psychology
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Support