Accuracy of Electronic Medical Record Medication Reconciliation in Emergency Department Patients

J Emerg Med. 2015 Jul;49(1):78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2014.12.052. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


Background: Medication history discrepancies have the potential to cause significant adverse clinical effects for patients. More than 40% of medication errors can be traced to inadequate reconciliation.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the accuracy of electronic medical record (EMR)-reconciled medication lists obtained in an academic emergency department (ED).

Methods: Comprehensive research medication ingestion histories for the 48 h preceding ED visit were performed and compared to reconciled EMR medication lists in a convenience sample of ED patients. The reconciled EMR list of prescription, nonprescription, vitamins, herbals, and supplement medications were compared against a structured research medication history tool. We measured the accuracy of the reconciled EMR list vs. the research history for all classes of medications as the primary outcome.

Results: Five hundred and two subjects were enrolled. The overall accuracy of EMR-recorded ingestion histories in the preceding 48 h was poor. The EMR was accurate in only 21.9% of cases. Neither age ≥ 65 years (odds ratio [OR] = 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.6-2.6) nor sex (female vs. male: OR = 1.5; 95% CI 0.9-2.5) were predictors of accurate EMR history. In the inaccurate EMRs, prescription lists were more likely to include medications that the subject did not report using (78.9%), while the EMR was more likely not to capture nonprescriptions (76.1%), vitamins (73.0%), supplements (67.3%), and herbals (89.1%) that the subject reported using.

Conclusions: Medication ingestion histories procured through triage EMR reconciliation are often inaccurate, and additional strategies are needed to obtain an accurate list.

Keywords: electronic medical record; emergency department medications; medication history; medication reconciliation; reconciliation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Electronic Health Records / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Medication Reconciliation / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Plant Preparations
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamins
  • Young Adult


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Plant Preparations
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Vitamins