Medication histories by pharmacy technicians and physicians in an emergency department

Int J Clin Pharm. 2015 Dec;37(6):1121-7. doi: 10.1007/s11096-015-0172-6. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Background: Medication histories (MHs) obtained at the time of patients' admission to hospital are often incomplete, and lack of information about patients' actual medicine use can potentially lead to prescribing failures and serious adverse events. Uses of clinical pharmacists in obtaining MHs are beneficial, but due to limited economic resources clinical pharmacists cannot be present in every hospital ward, and therefore pharmacy technicians (PTs) could probably be trained in obtaining MHs.

Objective: To compare discrepancies in MHs obtained by physicians and PTs in an emergency department. Second to evaluate, whether PTs could assist and/or replace physicians in obtaining MHs.

Methods: The study was conducted in the emergency department at Svendborg Hospital, Denmark and patients treated with a minimum of three prescribed medicines were included. On patients' admission to hospital, physicians recorded the primary MHs, and within 48 h the secondary MHs were made by PTs. All MHs were conducted using standard guidelines. A clinical pharmacist reviewed the MHs, and based on these reviews, a final medication list was defined, and the MHs were compared to this. The discrepancies were registered with respect to type and therapeutic group (medicines).

Results: A total of 113 patients were included in this study, and data for 106 patients were analysed. On average, three discrepancies were detected for each patient in the primary MHs, and less than one discrepancy per patient in the secondary MHs. A total of 1075 prescriptions were registered, and for the physicians, 287 discrepancies (27 % of total prescriptions) were found, and for PTs the number was 28 (2 % of total prescriptions). The commonly detected discrepancy was "drug missing in the electronic patient record". The largest number of discrepancies was found for nervous system medications (ATC group N), medicines from ATC group A (alimentary tract and metabolism) and respiratory medicine (ATC group R).

Conclusion: Fewer discrepancies in the MHs obtained by PTs than physicians were detected compared to standard medicine lists made by an experienced clinical pharmacist.

Keywords: Clinical pharmacy; Denmark; Medication history; Medication list; Medication review; Pharmacist; Pharmacy technician; Physician.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Denmark
  • Electronic Health Records / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Reconciliation / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacy Technicians / standards*
  • Pharmacy Technicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data