Hospital’s Community Medication Record part of Conference’s Best Solutions Track for Patient Safety Initiatives
Atlantic General Hospital recently presented the results of its first step in the creation of a comprehensive community medication record (CMR) for Worcester County during the 3rd Annual Maryland Patient Safety Conference in Baltimore. This innovation has received much interest from hospitals throughout Maryland and around the country as health care institutions strive to improve patient safety by reducing medication errors.
Medication error is a common threat to patient safety: it is estimated that 7,000 patients die in the U.S. each year as a result of medication errors an¬¬d a larger number require further treatment. The American Hospital Association points to incomplete patient information – including known allergies and current medications – as one of a handful of principle causes.
Through a $50,000 Cardinal Health Grant, Atlantic General Hospital created a software solution to link hospital and physician office medication and allergy records and thus reduce these kinds of errors. During the first phase of the project, hospital medication and allergy records as well as more than 2,000 records from two pilot physician offices were backloaded into the CMR.
The medication record is bi-directional, meaning that both hospital staff and physician office personnel can make updates to a patient’s list of medications and allergies. This insures that the most up-to-date information is available for each patient, improving and speeding the medication reconciliation process.
The first results gleaned from Atlantic General Hospital’s efforts were astounding. Medication discrepancies for inpatients fell from 64 percent to 17 percent as hospital staff were able to access medication records from the primary care physician’s office through the CMR rather than rely on the lists of home medications provided by the patients upon admission.
Medication information sharing after discharge improved as well. Prior to launching the program, only 5 percent of patients’ physician office charts included the list of medications given to the patient while in the hospital. Now, 100 percent of the patient charts at the two pilot physician offices include the hospital medication discharge list, ready and waiting for the patients’ first follow up appointments.
Hospital clinicians and physician office staff alike have embraced the CMR, citing its ease of use and efficiency as plusses.
“My office staff has absolutely fallen in love with this product,” said Dr. Edwin Castenada, whose internal medicine practice was one of the two off-site offices that participated during the pilot phase. “It has helped streamline tremendously our medication reviews for office appointments. We have almost completely eliminated any handwritten tasks for medication review.”
During future phases, Atlantic General Hospital plans to expand the CMR to the hospital’s emergency room and other departments as well as to physician offices in the community. They will also create additional features such as bar coding and electronic prescription transmission to the pharmacy.
As a requisite for funding through the Cardinal Health Grant, Atlantic General Hospital will be sharing this software solution with health care organizations across the country to further encourage the development of community medication records and improve patient safety nationwide.
For more information about the Community Medication Record, please contact Murray Oltman, Director of Information Services, Atlantic General Hospital, at (410) 629-0913.
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