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Reducing errors with medication reconciliation training

If the medications listed in a California patient's medical records are inaccurate, certain prescriptions could do more harm than good. This is why physician assistant student researchers from the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center have implemented a patient medication interview. The team is recommending standardized medication reconciliation training after a pre-implementation review identified several instances where medical record technicians were not prepared to properly conduct medication reconciliation procedures.

In addition to not receiving sufficient medication reconciliation training, some medical technicians were not familiar with electronic medical records for patients. The research team discovered instances of patients not being able to recall what medications they were taking as well. Some patients also failed to bring either their actual medication(s) to visits or an updated medication list.

Pre-implementation results showed that half of the medical record technicians were thorough in the questions they asked patients about their medications. However, more than 30% of the technicians only did partial patient interviews, and nearly 15% of them did not bring up the subject of medication with patients at all. But when a standardized training regimen that involved the use of a script and a list of common meds was implemented, medication reconciliation was properly done 100% of the time, according to researchers. The training also eliminated instances of partial or absent questioning. Researchers hope to compare results from their methods to other medical information collection practices.

If errors with prescriptions do occur, an attorney may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of the affected patient. In addition to medical record technicians, responsible parties could include the patient's physician and the pharmacist. A lawyer might also look at procedures a particular medical practice did or did not have in place to catch medication errors.

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