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Half of Heart Patients Make Medication Mistakes, Study

Half of Heart Patients Make Medication Mistakes, Study

(epharmanews) – Nearly fifty percent of heart patients make mistakes with their medications after leaving the hospital, according to a new research.

Researchers from the Vanderbilt University followed patients who were hospitalized after a heart conditions at Vanderbilt University Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

They randomly assigned half of the 851 patients who participated in this study to visit the hospital’s pharmacy twice a week so that the pharmacist can follow them and make sure they have taken their prescriptions according to the instructions.

Pharmacists also gave them instructions as they were leaving hospital to minimize side effects. The patients also received tools, such as a medication chart and pillbox, to use at home.

After leaving the hospital, the patients received a phone call to identify medication-related problems over the phone and a pharmacist made a follow-up call if such problems were found.

The second half of the patients were not followed up nor did they receive any additional instructions, other than the instructions they had received as they were leaving the hospital about medications and dosages.

The researchers found that after one month half of the patients had made at least one harmful or potentially-harmful medication error, including missing doses, taking the incorrect dose, stopping a drug too early or continuing it for too long.

There were no differences between the mistakes made by either of the groups, which indicated that the instructions and recommendations the doctors and pharmacists offered did not reduce the mistakes, despite the fact that the hospitals involved in the study were already taking steps to prevent medication mistakes.

The researchers noted that although most of the consequences of such mistakes were side effects like constipation and a little less than a quarter of them were serious, such as high blood pressure, two percent were considered life-threatening. According to one expert, there is definitely an economic aspect to the problem. Some people may skip doses or split pills to cut costs. Choosing generic medications, when possible, can help eliminate the cost factor.

Patients, and their families, are advised to carry a medication list that includes drug doses and reasons for taking each medications with them at all times. This simple step can help the patient, doctors and pharmacists avoid medications problems.

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Prepared by: Nessrin Biram

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