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Medication errors a big problem after hospital discharge

July 9, 2012

About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
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Famous Photographers
July 14, 2012

I think it’s the patients’ responsibility to be aware about the medications he/she should take after being discharged from the hospital. It’s their own life that is at risk and they must be responsible for their own health.

July 13, 2012

I think it’s doctors and pharmacist who responsible to communicate the discharge instruction to patients, because some patients may just common in medical affairs, for example such reading problem that explain above….

Dr Kanna
July 10, 2012

I think the problem remains highly in the hands of the “trained” medical teams of hospitals. Even if patients do not fully understand their medication instructions and may “fail” to ask for clarification, the responsibilitiy should reside with the persons who are providing the medical care. Because of liability issues and ethics codes, doctors and other healthcare staff should be held responsible for ensuring all patients receive appropriate information and if they do not, there will be legal and ethical consequences.

Families should see to it that potential rules be implimented because we are talking about life or death. What about the cases involving children and adolescents? What about the cases involving Alzheimers Disease or Dementia? What about severe psychiatric disorders? These populations lack clarity of mind or cognitive maturity. Such individuals would not be able to ask for clarifying information and some people simply don’t know the right questions to ask. Other people do not have significant others or family to rely on and even these people don’t always know the right questions to ask! So I disagree that the responsibility is with patients. This almost sounds like passing the responsibility and blame.

Our job is to ensure that patients are taken care of and that they reasonably understand the information given to them. Life is full of errors and no “professional” is perfect, but we should attempt to provide reasonable accommodations.

There is information on the “revolving door of the healthcare system,” another problem of our healthcare system.

Justine Fields-Dion
July 10, 2012

Are you aware if the same rate of medication errors occur when a patient is discharged to a SNF or are medication errors are reduced?

July 10, 2012

health care system is very important.tnak you for information.

Sacramento Personal Trainer
July 9, 2012

My wife had the same problem. The doc prescribed her a medication that was considerably higher dosage than she was supposed to have and in-fact, wasn’t even the proper medication for her ailment. Fortunately, she was able to determine this when speaking to the pharmacist before she took the meds.

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