Implementation of a Discharge Education Program to Improve Transitions of Care for Patients at High Risk of Medication Errors

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Annals of Pharmacotherapy


Background: Transitions of care (TOC) points are those where patient outcomes can be affected, especially patients at high risk for medication errors. Pharmacist-led postdischarge telephone counseling positively affects patient outcomes, though challenges exist relating to successful patient contact. Objective: The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a discharge education service bridging the inpatient and outpatient setting to increase successful patient contact points during the TOC process from hospital to home. Methods: This prospective, single-centered observational study examined the impact of a discharge medication education program on successful telephone follow-up contact. The primary outcome was the percentage of high-risk patients educated at hospital discharge who were successfully reached via follow-up telephone contact within 2 business days of discharge. Secondary end points included hospital readmission rates and patient survey responses. Results: A total of 50 patients were included in the initial evaluation of this service; 78% of patients were successfully contacted within 2 business days after discharge, an increase from a 20% success rate prior to service implementation. At follow-up telephone calls, patients reported taking an average of 16 medications. The 30-day readmission rate was 10% for patients receiving this service, compared with 19% prior to implementation. When asked if they understood the medication component of their care and if they found the TOC service to be satisfactory, 100% and 96% of patients strongly agreed or agreed with these statements, respectively, and none disagreed. Conclusion and Relevance: This service demonstrates how pharmacists can interact with a high-risk population and increase contact points to optimize care at crucial health care transition points.

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