Understanding Hazards for Adverse Drug Events Among Older Adults After Hospital Discharge: Insights From Frontline Care Professionals

J Patient Saf. 2022 Dec 1;18(8):e1174-e1180. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000001046.


Objectives: Care transitions pose a high risk of adverse drug events (ADEs). We aimed to identify hazards to medication safety for older adults during care transitions using a systems approach.

Methods: Hospital-based professionals from 4 hospitals were interviewed about ADE risks after hospital discharge among older adults. Concerns were extracted from the interview transcript, and for each concern, hazard for medication-related harms was coded and grouped by its sources according to a human factors and systems engineering model that views postdischarge ADEs as the outcome of professional and patient home work systems.

Results: Thirty-eight professionals participated (5 hospitalists, 24 nurses, 4 clinical pharmacists, 3 pharmacy technicians, and 2 social workers). Hazards were classified into 6 groups, ranked by frequencies of hazards coded: (1) medication tasks related at home, (2) patient and caregiver related, (3) hospital work system related, (4) home resource related, (5) hospital professional-patient collaborative work related, and (6) external environment related. Medications most frequently cited when describing concerns included anticoagulants, insulins, and diuretics. Top coded hazard types were complex dosing, patient and caregiver knowledge gaps in medication management, errors in discharge medications, unaffordable cost, inadequate understanding about changes in medications, and gaps in access to care or in sharing medication information.

Conclusions: From the perspective of hospital-based frontline health care professionals, hazards for medication-related harms during care transitions were multifactorial and represented those introduced by the hospital work system as well as defects unrecognized and unaddressed in the home work system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / etiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors
  • Patient Discharge*