Effectiveness of pharmacist-led medication reconciliation on medication errors at hospital discharge and healthcare utilization in the next 30 days: a pragmatic clinical trial

Front Pharmacol. 2024 Mar 28:15:1377781. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2024.1377781. eCollection 2024.

Abstract

Transitions of care often lead to medication errors and unnecessary healthcare utilization. Medication reconciliation has been repeatedly shown to reduce this risk. However, the great majority of evidence is limited to the provision of medication reconciliation within clinical trials and countries with well-established clinical pharmacy. Thus, this pragmatic, prospective, controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of routine pharmacist-led medication reconciliation compared to standard care on medication errors and unplanned healthcare utilization in adult general medical patients hospitalized in a teaching hospital in Slovenia. All patients hospitalized in a ward where medication reconciliation was integrated into routine clinical practice were included in the intervention group and received admission and discharge medication reconciliation, coupled with patient counselling. The control group consisted of randomly selected patients from the remaining medical wards. The primary study outcome was unplanned healthcare utilization within 30 days of discharge, and the secondary outcomes were clinically important medication errors at hospital discharge and serious unplanned healthcare utilization within 30 days of discharge. Overall, 414 patients (53.4% male, median 71 years) were included-225 in the intervention group and 189 in the control group. In the intervention group, the number of patients with clinically important medication errors at discharge was significantly lower (intervention vs control group: 9.3% vs 61.9%). Multiple logistic regression revealed that medication reconciliation reduced the likelihood of a clinically important medication error by 20-fold, while a higher number of medications on admission was associated with an increased likelihood. However, no significant differences were noted in any and serious unplanned healthcare utilization (intervention vs control group: 33.9% vs 27.8% and 20.3% vs 14.6%, respectively). The likelihood of serious healthcare utilization increased with the age of the patient, the number of medications on admission and being hospitalized for an acute medical condition. Our pragmatic trial confirmed that medication reconciliation, even when performed as part of routine clinical practice, led to a substantial reduction in the risk of clinically important medication errors at hospital discharge but not to a reduction in healthcare utilization. Medication reconciliation is a fundamental, albeit not sufficient, element to ensure patient safety after hospital discharge. Clinical Trial Registration: https://clinicaltrials.gov/search?id=NCT06207500, identifier NCT06207500.

Keywords: healthcare utilization; medication error; medication reconciliation; patient discharge; pharmacist; safety; transitions of care.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT06207500

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (research core funding No. P1-0189 and P-0360).