discoveries magazine

Prescription for Accuracy

Red and blue capsule

Mistakes involving medications rank among the most common healthcare mishaps. But when pharmacy professionals obtain medication histories from patients admitted through the emergency room (ER), drug-order errors can be reduced by more than 80 percent, according to a Cedars-Sinai–led study.

Adverse drug events occur 1.5 million times annually, harming hundreds of thousands of patients across the nation. Inaccurate or incomplete medication histories contribute significantly to such problems and can lead to ordering the wrong drug, dose, or frequency, notes Rita Shane, PharmD, Cedars-Sinai’s chief pharmacy officer.

Acting on these findings, Cedars-Sinai now assigns pharmacy staff to obtain medication histories of all patients admitted through the ER who are considered at high risk due to age, reliance on multiple drugs, or other factors. The process also frees up physicians and nurses to handle other critical tasks.