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1.  Medication reconciliation at admission and discharge: a time and motion study 
Medication reconciliation at admission, transfer and discharge has been designated as a required hospital practice to reduce adverse drug events. However, implementation challenges have resulted in poor hospital adherence. The aim of this study was to assess the processes required to carry out medication reconciliation: the health professionals involved, the tasks and time devoted to medication reconciliation in general hospital settings.
A time-and-motion study design was used. Using a systematic sample of patients admitted and discharged from geriatric, medical and surgical units in two academic centers, health professionals involved in medication reconciliation were observed and timed. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the number of professionals involved, tasks performed, and mean time devoted.
Up to 3 professionals from 2 disciplines (medicine and pharmacy) were involved in the medication reconciliation process. Geriatric reconciliations took the most time to complete at admission (mean: 92.2 minutes (SD = 44.3)) and discharge (mean: 29.0 minutes (SD = 23.8)), followed by internal medicine at admission (mean: 46.2 minutes (SD = 21.1)) and 19.4 (SD = 11.7) minutes at discharge) and general surgery minutes at discharge (mean: 9.9 minutes (SD = 18.2)). Considerable differences in order, type and number of tasks performed were noted between and within units. Tasks independent of direct patient interaction took more than twice the time required to complete than tasks requiring patient interaction.
Lack of coordination, specialized training and agreement on the roles and responsibilities of professionals are among the most probable reasons for work-flow inefficiencies, possibly variability in quality, and time required for the current medication reconciliation process. A better understanding of the admission processes in general surgery is required. Standardization and use of electronic tools could improve efficiency and hospital adherence.
PMCID: PMC3842651  PMID: 24261516
Medication reconciliation; Admission; Discharge; Adverse drug events; Prescription; Electronic records
2.  Aligning Medication Reconciliation and Secure Messaging: Qualitative Study of Primary Care Providers’ Perspectives 
Virtual (non-face-to-face) medication reconciliation strategies may reduce adverse drug events (ADEs) among vulnerable ambulatory patients. Understanding provider perspectives on the use of technology for medication reconciliation can inform the design of patient-centered solutions to improve ambulatory medication safety.
The aim of the study was to describe primary care providers’ experiences of ambulatory medication reconciliation and secure messaging (secure email between patients and providers), and to elicit perceptions of a virtual medication reconciliation system using secure messaging (SM).
This was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. From January 2012 to May 2012, we conducted structured observations of primary care clinical activities and interviewed 15 primary care providers within a Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). We carried out content analysis informed by the grounded theory.
Of the 15 participating providers, 12 were female and 11 saw 10 or fewer patients in a typical workday. Experiences and perceptions elicited from providers during in-depth interviews were organized into 12 overarching themes: 4 themes for experiences with medication reconciliation, 3 themes for perceptions on how to improve ambulatory medication reconciliation, and 5 themes for experiences with SM. Providers generally recognized medication reconciliation as a valuable component of primary care delivery and all agreed that medication reconciliation following hospital discharge is a key priority. Most providers favored delegating the responsibility for medication reconciliation to another member of the staff, such as a nurse or a pharmacist. The 4 themes related to ambulatory medication reconciliation were (1) the approach to complex patients, (2) the effectiveness of medication reconciliation in preventing ADEs, (3) challenges to completing medication reconciliation, and (4) medication reconciliation during transitions of care. Specifically, providers emphasized the importance of medication reconciliation at the post-hospital visit. Providers indicated that assistance from a caregiver (eg, a family member) for medication reconciliation was helpful for complex or elderly patients and that patients’ social or cognitive factors often made medication reconciliation challenging. Regarding providers’ use of SM, about half reported using SM frequently, but all felt that it improved their clinical workflow and nearly all providers were enthusiastic about a virtual medication reconciliation system, such as one using SM. All providers thought that such a system could reduce ADEs.
Although providers recognize the importance and value of ambulatory medication reconciliation, various factors make it difficult to execute this task effectively, particularly among complex or elderly patients and patients with complicated social circumstances. Many providers favor enlisting the support of pharmacists or nurses to perform medication reconciliation in the outpatient setting. In general, providers are enthusiastic about the prospect of using secure messaging for medication reconciliation, particularly during transitions of care, and believe a system of virtual medication reconciliation could reduce ADEs.
PMCID: PMC3868963  PMID: 24297865
medication reconciliation; secure messaging; secure email, primary care; provider experiences; health information technology (HIT)
3.  Pharmacists’ Recommendations to Improve Care Transitions 
The Annals of pharmacotherapy  2012;46(9):1152-1159.
Increasingly, hospitals are implementing multi-faceted programs to improve medication reconciliation and transitions of care, often involving pharmacists.
To help delineate the optimal role of pharmacists in this context, this qualitative study assessed pharmacists’ views on their roles in hospital-based medication reconciliation and discharge counseling. We also provide pharmacists’ recommendations for improving care transitions.
Eleven study pharmacists at two hospitals who participated in the Pharmacist Intervention for Low Literacy in Cardiovascular Disease (PILL-CVD) study completed semi-structured one-on-one interviews, which were coded systematically in NVivo. Pharmacists provided their perspectives on admission and discharge medication reconciliation, in-hospital patient counseling, provision of simple medication adherence aids (e.g., pill box, illustrated daily medication schedule), and telephone follow-up.
Pharmacists considered medication reconciliation, though time-consuming, to be their most important role in improving care transitions, particularly through detection of errors in the admission medication history that required correction. They also identified patients with poor understanding of their medications, who required additional counseling. Providing adherence aids was felt to be highly valuable for patients with low health literacy, though less useful for patients with adequate health literacy. Pharmacists noted that having trained administrative staff conduct the initial post-discharge follow-up call to screen for issues and triage which patients needed pharmacist follow-up was helpful and an efficient use of resources. Pharmacists’ recommendations for improving care transitions included clear communication among team members, protected time for discharge counseling, patient and family engagement in discharge counseling, and provision of patient education materials.
Pharmacists are well-positioned to participate in hospital-based medication reconciliation, identify patients with poor medication understanding or adherence, and provide tailored patient counseling to improve transitions of care. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings in other settings, and to determine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different models of pharmacist involvement.
PMCID: PMC3575733  PMID: 22872752
pharmacist; health literacy; care transitions; medication reconciliation; qualitative research
4.  Using novel Canadian resources to improve medication reconciliation at discharge: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:150.
Adverse drug events are responsible for up to 7% of all admissions to acute care hospitals. At least 58% of these are preventable, resulting from incomplete drug information, prescribing or dispensing errors, and overuse or underuse of medications. Effective implementation of medication reconciliation is considered essential to reduce preventable adverse drug events occurring at transitions between community and hospital care. An electronically enabled discharge reconciliation process represents an innovative approach to this problem.
Participants will be recruited in Quebec and are eligible for inclusion if they are using prescription medication at admission, covered by the Quebec drug insurance plan, admitted from the community, 18 years or older, admitted to a general or intensive care medical or surgical unit, and discharged alive. A sample size of 3,714 will be required to detect a 5% reduction in adverse drug events. The intervention will comprise electronic retrieval of the community drug list, combined with an electronic discharge reconciliation module and an electronic discharge communication module. The primary outcomes will be adverse drug events occurring 30 days post-discharge, identified by a combination of patient self-report and chart abstraction. All emergency room visits and hospital readmission during this period will be measured as secondary outcomes. A cluster randomization approach will be used to allocate 16 medical and 10 surgical units to electronic discharge reconciliation and communication versus usual care. An intention-to-treat approach will be used to analyse data. Logistic regression will be undertaken within a generalized estimating equation framework to account for clustering within units.
The goal of this prospective trial is to determine if electronically enabled discharge reconciliation will reduce the risk of adverse drug events, emergency room visits and readmissions 30 days post-discharge compared with usual care. We expect that this intervention will improve adherence to medication reconciliation at discharge, the accuracy of the community-based drug history and effective communication of hospital-based treatment changes to community care providers. The results may support policy-directed investments in computerizing and training of hospital staff, generate key requirements for future hospital accreditation standards, and highlight functional requirements for software vendors.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3502593  PMID: 22920446
Adverse events; Medication reconciliation; Transitions in care
5.  Rationale and design of the Multicenter Medication Reconciliation Quality Improvement Study (MARQUIS) 
Unresolved medication discrepancies during hospitalization can contribute to adverse drug events, resulting in patient harm. Discrepancies can be reduced by performing medication reconciliation; however, effective implementation of medication reconciliation has proven to be challenging. The goals of the Multi-Center Medication Reconciliation Quality Improvement Study (MARQUIS) are to operationalize best practices for inpatient medication reconciliation, test their effect on potentially harmful unintentional medication discrepancies, and understand barriers and facilitators of successful implementation.
Six U.S. hospitals are participating in this quality improvement mentored implementation study. Each hospital has collected baseline data on the primary outcome: the number of potentially harmful unintentional medication discrepancies per patient, as determined by a trained on-site pharmacist taking a “gold standard” medication history. With the guidance of their mentors, each site has also begun to implement one or more of 11 best practices to improve medication reconciliation. To understand the effect of the implemented interventions on hospital staff and culture, we are performing mixed methods program evaluation including surveys, interviews, and focus groups of front line staff and hospital leaders.
At baseline the number of unintentional medication discrepancies in admission and discharge orders per patient varies by site from 2.35 to 4.67 (mean=3.35). Most discrepancies are due to history errors (mean 2.12 per patient) as opposed to reconciliation errors (mean 1.23 per patient). Potentially harmful medication discrepancies averages 0.45 per patient and varies by site from 0.13 to 0.82 per patient. We discuss several barriers to implementation encountered thus far. In the end, we anticipate that MARQUIS tools and lessons learned have the potential to decrease medication discrepancies and improve patient outcomes.
Trial registration identifier NCT01337063
PMCID: PMC3698100  PMID: 23800355
Medication reconciliation; Hospitalization; Quality improvement; Care transitions
6.  Implementing medication reconciliation from the planner’s perspective: a qualitative study 
Medication reconciliation can reduce adverse events associated with prescribing errors at transitions between sites of care. Though a U.S. Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal since 2006, at present organizations continue to have difficulty implementing it. The objective of this study was to examine medication reconciliation implementation from the perspective of individuals involved in the planning process in order to identify recurrent themes, including facilitators and barriers, that might inform other organizations’ planning and implementation efforts.
We performed semi-structured interviews with individuals who had a role in planning medication reconciliation implementation at a large urban academic medical center in the U.S. and its affiliated Veterans Affairs hospital. We queried respondents’ perceptions of the implementation process and their experience with facilitators and barriers. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The themes that emerged were subsequently categorized using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR).
There were 13 respondents, each with one or more organizational roles in quality improvement, information technology, medication safety, and education. Respondents described a resource- and time- intensive medication reconciliation planning process. The planning teams’ membership and functioning were recognized as important factors to a successful planning process. Implementation was facilitated by planners’ understanding of the principles of performance improvement, in particular, fitting the new process into the workflow of multiple disciplines. Nevertheless, a need for significant professional role changes was recognized. Staff training was recognized to be an important part of roll-out, but training had several limitations. Planners monitored compliance to help sustain the process, but acknowledged that this did not ensure that medication reconciliation actually achieved its primary goal of reducing errors. Study findings fit multiple constructs in the CFIR model.
Study findings suggest that to improve the likelihood of a successful implementation of medication reconciliation, planners should, among other considerations, involve a multidisciplinary planning team, recognize the significant professional role changes that may be needed, and consider devoting resources not just to compliance monitoring but also to monitoring of the process’ impact on prescribing.
PMCID: PMC4226973  PMID: 24996538
Medication reconciliation; Adverse drug event; Patient safety; Implementation; National patient safety goals
7.  Identifying Barriers to Medication Discharge Counselling by Pharmacists 
Medication errors may occur more frequently at discharge, making discharge counselling a vital facet of medication reconciliation. Discharge counselling is a recognized patient safety initiative for which pharmacists have appropriate expertise, but data are lacking about the barriers to provision of this service to adult inpatients by pharmacists.
To determine the proportion of eligible patients who received discharge counselling, to quantify perceived barriers preventing pharmacists from performing discharge counselling, and to determine the relative frequency of barriers and associated time expenditures.
In this prospective study, 8 pharmacists working in general medicine, medical oncology, or nephrology wards of an acute care hospital completed a survey for each of the first 50 patients eligible for discharge counselling on their respective wards from June 2010 to February 2011. Patients discharged to another facility (rehabilitation, palliative care, or long-term care), those with hospital stay less than 48 h before discharge, and those whose medications were unchanged from hospital admission were ineligible.
Discharge counselling was performed for 116 (29%) of the 403 eligible patients and involved a median preparation time of 25 min and median counselling time of 15 min per patient. At least one documented barrier to discharge counselling existed for 295 (73%) of the patients. Several barriers to discharge counselling occurred significantly more frequently on the general medicine and oncology wards than on the nephrology ward (p < 0.05). The most common barrier was failure to notify the pharmacist about impending patient discharge (130/313 [41%]). Time constraints existed for 130 (32%) of the patients, the most common related to clarification of prescriptions (96 [24%]), creation of a medication list (69 [17%]), and faxing of prescriptions (64 [16%]).
This study generated objective data about the barriers to and time constraints associated with medication discharge counselling by pharmacists. These findings should raise awareness of the challenges faced by pharmacists in busy hospital positions and may support avenues of change for their hospital discharge counselling programs.
PMCID: PMC4071082  PMID: 24970940
barriers to discharge counselling; obstacles à l’offre de conseils au moment du congé
8.  The effect of the COACH program (Continuity Of Appropriate pharmacotherapy, patient Counselling and information transfer in Healthcare) on readmission rates in a multicultural population of internal medicine patients 
Medication errors occur frequently at points of transition in care. The key problems causing these medication errors are: incomplete and inappropriate medication reconciliation at hospital discharge (partly arising from inadequate medication reconciliation at admission), insufficient patient information (especially within a multicultural patient population) and insufficient communication to the next health care provider. Whether interventions aimed at the combination of these aspects indeed result in less discontinuity and associated harm is uncertain. Therefore the main objective of this study is to determine the effect of the COACH program (Continuity Of Appropriate pharmacotherapy, patient Counselling and information transfer in Healthcare) on readmission rates in patients discharged from the internal medicine department.
An experimental study is performed at the internal medicine ward of a general teaching hospital in Amsterdam, which serves a multicultural population. In this study the effects of the COACH program is compared with usual care using a pre-post study design. All patients being admitted with at least one prescribed drug intended for chronic use are included in the study unless they meet one of the following exclusion criteria: no informed consent, no medication intended for chronic use prescribed at discharge, death, transfer to another ward or hospital, discharge within 24 hours or out of office hours, discharge to a nursing home and no possibility to counsel the patient.
The intervention consists of medication reconciliation, patient counselling and communication between the hospital and primary care healthcare providers.
The following outcomes are measured: the primary outcome readmissions within six months after discharge and the secondary outcomes number of interventions, adherence, patient's attitude towards medicines, patient's satisfaction with medication information, costs, quality of life and finally satisfaction of general practitioners and community pharmacists.
Interrupted time series analysis is used for data-analysis of the primary outcome. Descriptive statistics is performed for the secondary outcomes. An economic evaluation is performed according to the intention-to-treat principle.
This study will be able to evaluate the clinical and cost impact of a comprehensive program on continuity of care and associated patient safety.
Trial registration
Dutch trial register: NTR1519
PMCID: PMC2843699  PMID: 20156368
9.  Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at:
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website:
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website:
The objective of this analysis was to compare hospital-at-home care with inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who present to the emergency department (ED).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease state characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. This airflow limitation is usually both progressive and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles or gases. The natural history of COPD involves periods of acute-onset worsening of symptoms, particularly increased breathlessness, cough, and/or sputum, that go beyond normal day-to-day variations; these are known as acute exacerbations.
Two-thirds of COPD exacerbations are caused by an infection of the tracheobronchial tree or by air pollution; the cause in the remaining cases is unknown. On average, patients with moderate to severe COPD experience 2 or 3 exacerbations each year.
Exacerbations have an important impact on patients and on the health care system. For the patient, exacerbations result in decreased quality of life, potentially permanent losses of lung function, and an increased risk of mortality. For the health care system, exacerbations of COPD are a leading cause of ED visits and hospitalizations, particularly in winter.
Hospital-at-home programs offer an alternative for patients who present to the ED with an exacerbation of COPD and require hospital admission for their treatment. Hospital-at-home programs provide patients with visits in their home by medical professionals (typically specialist nurses) who monitor the patients, alter patients’ treatment plans if needed, and in some programs, provide additional care such as pulmonary rehabilitation, patient and caregiver education, and smoking cessation counselling.
There are 2 types of hospital-at-home programs: admission avoidance and early discharge hospital-at-home. In the former, admission avoidance hospital-at-home, after patients are assessed in the ED, they are prescribed the necessary medications and additional care needed (e.g., oxygen therapy) and then sent home where they receive regular visits from a medical professional. In early discharge hospital-at-home, after being assessed in the ED, patients are admitted to the hospital where they receive the initial phase of their treatment. These patients are discharged into a hospital-at-home program before the exacerbation has resolved. In both cases, once the exacerbation has resolved, the patient is discharged from the hospital-at-home program and no longer receives visits in his/her home.
In the models that exist to date, hospital-at-home programs differ from other home care programs because they deal with higher acuity patients who require higher acuity care, and because hospitals retain the medical and legal responsibility for patients. Furthermore, patients requiring home care services may require such services for long periods of time or indefinitely, whereas patients in hospital-at-home programs require and receive the services for a short period of time only.
Hospital-at-home care is not appropriate for all patients with acute exacerbations of COPD. Ineligible patients include: those with mild exacerbations that can be managed without admission to hospital; those who require admission to hospital; and those who cannot be safely treated in a hospital-at-home program either for medical reasons and/or because of a lack of, or poor, social support at home.
The proposed possible benefits of hospital-at-home for treatment of exacerbations of COPD include: decreased utilization of health care resources by avoiding hospital admission and/or reducing length of stay in hospital; decreased costs; increased health-related quality of life for patients and caregivers when treated at home; and reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections in this susceptible patient population.
Ontario Context
No hospital-at-home programs for the treatment of acute exacerbations of COPD were identified in Ontario. Patients requiring acute care for their exacerbations are treated in hospitals.
Research Question
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of hospital-at-home care compared with inpatient hospital care of acute exacerbations of COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on August 5, 2010, using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database for studies published from January 1, 1990, to August 5, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists and health technology assessment websites were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the systematic search.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-text reports;
health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs);
studies performed exclusively in patients with a diagnosis of COPD or studies including patients with COPD as well as patients with other conditions, if results are reported for COPD patients separately;
studies performed in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED;
studies published between January 1, 1990, and August 5, 2010;
studies comparing hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for patients with acute exacerbations of COPD;
studies that include at least 1 of the outcomes of interest (listed below).
Cochrane Collaboration reviews have defined hospital-at-home programs as those that provide patients with active treatment for their acute exacerbation in their home by medical professionals for a limited period of time (in this case, until the resolution of the exacerbation). If a hospital-at-home program had not been available, these patients would have been admitted to hospital for their treatment.
Exclusion Criteria
< 18 years of age
animal studies
duplicate publications
grey literature
Outcomes of Interest
Patient/clinical outcomes
lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 second)
health-related quality of life
patient or caregiver preference
patient or caregiver satisfaction with care
Health system outcomes
hospital readmissions
length of stay in hospital and hospital-at-home
ED visits
transfer to long-term care
days to readmission
eligibility for hospital-at-home
Statistical Methods
When possible, results were pooled using Review Manager 5 Version 5.1; otherwise, results were summarized descriptively. Data from RCTs were analyzed using intention-to-treat protocols. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was done assigning all missing data/withdrawals to the event. P values less than 0.05 were considered significant. A priori subgroup analyses were planned for the acuity of hospital-at-home program, type of hospital-at-home program (early discharge or admission avoidance), and severity of the patients’ COPD. Additional subgroup analyses were conducted as needed based on the identified literature. Post hoc sample size calculations were performed using STATA 10.1.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed, taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review: 1 health technology assessment, 5 systematic reviews, and 7 RCTs.
The following conclusions are based on low to very low quality of evidence. The reviewed evidence was based on RCTs that were inadequately powered to observe differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for most outcomes, so there is a strong possibility of type II error. Given the low to very low quality of evidence, these conclusions must be considered with caution.
Approximately 21% to 37% of patients with acute exacerbations of COPD who present to the ED may be eligible for hospital-at-home care.
Of the patients who are eligible for care, some may refuse to participate in hospital-at-home care.
Eligibility for hospital-at-home care may be increased depending on the design of the hospital-at-home program, such as the size of the geographical service area for hospital-at-home and the hours of operation for patient assessment and entry into hospital-at-home.
Hospital-at-home care for acute exacerbations of COPD was associated with a nonsignificant reduction in the risk of mortality and hospital readmissions compared with inpatient hospital care during 2- to 6-month follow-up.
Limited, very low quality evidence suggests that hospital readmissions are delayed in patients who received hospital-at-home care compared with those who received inpatient hospital care (mean additional days before readmission comparing hospital-at-home to inpatient hospital care ranged from 4 to 38 days).
There is insufficient evidence to determine whether hospital-at-home care, compared with inpatient hospital care, is associated with improved lung function.
The majority of studies did not find significant differences between hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care for a variety of health-related quality of life measures at follow-up. However, follow-up may have been too late to observe an impact of hospital-at-home care on quality of life.
A conclusion about the impact of hospital-at-home care on length of stay for the initial exacerbation (defined as days in hospital or days in hospital plus hospital-at-home care for inpatient hospital and hospital-at-home, respectively) could not be determined because of limited and inconsistent evidence.
Patient and caregiver satisfaction with care is high for both hospital-at-home and inpatient hospital care.
PMCID: PMC3384361  PMID: 23074420
10.  Reconcilable differences: correcting medication errors at hospital admission and discharge 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2006;15(2):122-126.
Medication errors at the time of hospital admission and discharge are common and can lead to preventable adverse drug events. The objective of this study was to describe the potential impact of a medication reconciliation process to identify and rectify medication errors at the time of hospital admission and discharge.
Sixty randomly selected patients were prospectively enrolled at the time of admission to a Canadian community hospital. At admission, patients' medication orders were compared with pre‐admission medication use based on medication vials and interviews with patients, caregivers, and/or outpatient healthcare providers. At discharge, pre‐admission and in‐patient medications were compared with discharge orders and written instructions. All variances were discussed with the prescribing physician and classified as intended or unintended; unintended variances were considered to be medication errors. An internist classified the clinical importance of each unintended variance.
Overall, 60% (95% CI 48 to 72) of patients had at least one unintended variance and 18% (95% CI 9 to 28) had at least one clinically important unintended variance. None of the variances had been detected by usual clinical practice before reconciliation was conducted. Of the 20 clinically important variances, 75% (95% CI 56 to 94) were intercepted by medication reconciliation before patients were harmed.
Unintended medication variances at the time of hospital admission and discharge are common and clinically important. The medication reconciliation process identified and addressed most of these unintended variances before harm occurred. In this small study, medication reconciliation was a useful method for identifying and rectifying medication errors at times of transition. Reconciliation warrants broader evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2464829  PMID: 16585113
medication reconciliation; continuity of patient care; safety management; medication errors
11.  Health economic evaluation of the Lund Integrated Medicines Management Model (LIMM) in elderly patients admitted to hospital 
BMJ Open  2013;3(1):e001563.
To evaluate the cost effectiveness of a multidisciplinary team including a pharmacist for systematic medication review and reconciliation from admission to discharge at hospital among elderly patients (the Lund Integrated Medicines Management (LIMM)) in order to reduce drug-related readmissions and outpatient visits.
Published data from the LIMM project group were used to design a probabilistic decision tree model for evaluating tools for (1) a systematic medication reconciliation and review process at initial hospital admission and during stay (admission part) and (2) a medication report for patients discharged from hospital to primary care (discharge part). The comparator was standard care. Inpatient, outpatient and staff time costs (Euros, 2009) were calculated during a 3-month period. Dis-utilities for hospital readmissions and outpatient visits due to medication errors were taken from the literature.
The total cost for the LIMM model was €290 compared to €630 for standard care, in spite of a €39 intervention cost. The main cost offset arose from avoided drug-related readmissions in the Admission part (€262) whereas only €66 was offset in the Discharge part as a result of fewer outpatient visits and correction time. The reduced disutility was estimated to 0.005 quality-adjusted life-years (QALY), indicating that LIMM was a dominant alternative. The probability that the intervention would be cost-effective at a zero willingness to pay for a gained QALY compared to standard care was estimated to 98%.
The LIMM medication reconciliation (at admission and discharge) and medication review was both cost-saving and generated greater utility compared to standard care, foremost owing to avoided drug-related hospital readmissions. When implementing such a review process with a multidisciplinary team, it may be important to consider a learning curve in order to capture the full advantage.
PMCID: PMC3553390  PMID: 23315436
Clinical Pharmacology
12.  Effect of Patient- and Medication-Related Factors on Inpatient Medication Reconciliation Errors 
Little research has examined the incidence, clinical relevance, and predictors of medication reconciliation errors at hospital admission and discharge.
To identify patient- and medication-related factors that contribute to pre-admission medication list (PAML) errors and admission order errors, and to test whether such errors persist in the discharge medication list.
Design, Participants
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 423 adults with acute coronary syndromes or acute decompensated heart failure admitted to two academic hospitals who received pharmacist-assisted medication reconciliation during the Pharmacist Intervention for Low Literacy in Cardiovascular Disease (PILL–CVD) Study.
Main Measures
Pharmacists assessed the number of total and clinically relevant errors in the PAML and admission and discharge medication orders. We used negative binomial regression and report incidence rate ratios (IRR) of predictors of reconciliation errors.
Key Results
On admission, 174 of 413 patients (42%) had ≥1 PAML error, and 73 (18%) had ≥1 clinically relevant PAML error. At discharge, 158 of 405 patients (39%) had ≥1 discharge medication error, and 126 (31%) had ≥1 clinically relevant discharge medication error. Clinically relevant PAML errors were associated with older age (IRR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.00– 2.12) and number of pre-admission medications (IRR = 1.17; 95% CI, 1.10–1.25), and were less likely when a recent medication list was present in the electronic medical record (EMR) (IRR = 0.54; 95% CI, 0.30–0.96). Clinically relevant admission order errors were also associated with older age and number of pre-admission medications. Clinically relevant discharge medication errors were more likely for every PAML error (IRR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.19–1.45) and number of medications changed prior to discharge (IRR = 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01–1.11).
Medication reconciliation errors are common at hospital admission and discharge. Errors in preadmission medication histories are associated with older age and number of medications and lead to more discharge reconciliation errors. A recent medication list in the EMR is protective against medication reconciliation errors.
PMCID: PMC3403136  PMID: 22350761
medication reconciliation; hospital; medication errors; admission; discharge
13.  Medication Use in the Transition from Hospital to Home 
After hospital discharge, correct understanding and use of medications are key components of patient safety. The current discharge process does not provide adequate fail-safes to ensure quality post-discharge care. This often leads to preventable medication errors as well as non-adherence. Several barriers to successful discharge counseling, including use of medical jargon, lack of educational and administrative resources, time constraints, and low health literacy, contribute to ineffective communication between hospital physicians and patients. Other obstacles include inaccurate or incomplete documentation of the medication history, lack of social support, financial constraints, and poor transfer of information to outpatient physicians. Solutions to improve medication use in the transition period after hospital discharge require effective communication with patients through the use of easily understood language, highlighting key information, and ensuring patient comprehension through the “teach back” technique. More timely communication with outpatient physicians in addition to a more comprehensive transfer of information further facilitate the transition home. Finally, a systematic process of medication reconciliation also aids in decreasing the incidence of medication errors. Hospital-based physicians who attend to key details in the process of discharging patients can have a profound impact on improving medication adherence, avoiding medication errors, and decreasing adverse outcomes in the post-discharge period.
PMCID: PMC3575742  PMID: 18327350
medication adherence; patient education; communication; hospital medicine; medication reconciliation
14.  A Multidisciplinary Approach to Transition Care: A Patient Safety Innovation Study 
The Permanente Journal  2007;11(4):4-9.
Introduction: Patients with complex medical care needs often embark on multiple care transitions over an extended period of time. As these patients or their caregivers often become the chief source of communication for complex medical situations, each transition can create an opportunity for health care errors. Combining the efforts of the established departments of Chronic Care Coordination (CCC), Clinical Pharmacy Call Center (CPCC), and Continuing Care, Kaiser Permanente Colorado created programs to further safe care transitions.
Methods: Two key goals for safe care transitions were established: 1) reductions in medication errors and 2) increased follow-up with care plans. To achieve these goals, communication plans targeted at medication reconciliation, patient education, and coordination of outpatient recommendations were established. Expected outcomes included reductions in medication errors, decreased Emergency Department and hospital admissions, decreased readmissions, and increased outpatient follow-up and medication compliance.
Results: A review of medication-reconciliation records for intervention patients indicated that >90% of all discharge summaries contained at least one potential drug-related problem including duplicative drugs, omitted therapy, and medication contraindications. After skilled nursing facility discharge, patients who were transitioned by CPCC clinical pharmacists were: 1) 78% less likely to die; 2) 29% less likely to need an Emergency Department visit; and 3) 17% more likely to follow up with primary physicians and clinicians than were patients in the usual care group. Health care cost savings for patients seen by the CCC program demonstrated, conservatively, an annualized per patient savings of $5276. For 763 patients enrolled in 2003, this amounts to an estimated, annualized savings of $4,025,588.
Conclusions: Patients are becoming more informed and involved in their care, but they require ongoing education and coaching to become effective advocates for themselves. Identification of unintended medication discrepancies and potential drug-related problems and increased follow-up during care transitions can improve patient safety and quality of care while saving health care resources.
PMCID: PMC3048437  PMID: 21412475
15.  Impact of drug reconciliation at discharge and communication between hospital and community pharmacists on drug-related problems: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:260.
Patients are at risk of drug-related problems (DRPs) at transition points during hospitalization. The community pharmacist (CP) is often the first healthcare professional patients visit after discharge. CPs lack sufficient information about the patient and so they may be unable to identify problems in medications, which may lead to dispensing the wrong drugs or dosage, and/or giving wrong information. We aim to assess the impact of a complex intervention comprising of medication reconciliation performed at discharge by a hospital pharmacist (HP) with communication between the HP and CP on DRPs during the seven days following discharge.
The study is a cluster randomized crossover trial involving 46 care units (each unit corresponding to a cluster) in 22 French hospitals during two consecutive 14-day periods, randomly assigned as ‘experimental’ or ‘control’ (usual care) periods. We will recruit patients older than 18 years of age and visiting the same CP for at least three months. We will exclude patients with a hospital length of stay of more than 21 days, who do not return home or those in palliative care. During the experimental period, the HP will perform a medications reconciliation that will be communicated to the patient. The HP will inform the patient’s CP about the patient’s drug therapy (modification in home medication, acute drugs prescribed, nonprescription treatments, and/or lab results). The primary outcome will be a composite outcome of any kind of drug misuse during the seven days following discharge assessed at day seven (±2) post-discharge by a pharmacist in charge of the study who will contact both patients and CPs by phone. The secondary outcome will be unplanned hospitalizations assessed by phone contact at day 35 (±5) after discharge. We plan to recruit 1,176 patients.
This study will assess the impact of a reconciliation of medications performed at patient discharge followed by communication between the HP and the patient’s CP. It will allow for identifying the type of patients in France for which the intervention is most relevant.
Trial registration
This study was registered with (number: NCT02006797) on 5 December 2013.
PMCID: PMC4226949  PMID: 24981605
Community pharmacist; hospital pharmacist; drug-related problem; communication; cluster randomized crossover trial; hospital discharge; drug reconciliation
16.  Needs and barriers to improve the collaboration in oral anticoagulant therapy: a qualitative study 
Oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) involves many health care disciplines. Even though collaboration between care professionals is assumed to improve the quality of OAT, very little research has been done into the practice of OAT management to arrange and manage the collaboration. This study aims to identify the problems in collaboration experienced by the care professionals involved, the solutions they proposed to improve collaboration, and the barriers they encountered to the implementation of these solutions.
In the Netherlands, intensive follow-up of OAT is provided by specialized anticoagulant clinics (ACs). Sixty-eight semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 103 professionals working at an AC. These semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed inductively. Wagner's chronic care model (CCM) and Cabana's framework for improvement were used to categorize the results.
AC professionals experienced three main bottlenecks in collaboration: lack of knowledge (mostly of other professionals), lack of consensus on OAT, and limited information exchange between professionals. They mentioned several solutions to improve collaboration, especially solutions of CCM's decision support component (i.e. education, regular meetings, and agreements and protocols). Education is considered a prerequisite for the successful implementation of other proposed solutions such as developing a multidisciplinary protocol and changing the allocation of tasks. The potential of the health care organization to improve collaboration seemed to be underestimated by professionals. They experienced several barriers to the successful implementation of the proposed solutions. Most important barriers were the lack motivation of non-AC professionals and lack of time to establish collaboration.
This study revealed that the collaboration in OAT is limited by a lack of knowledge, a lack of consensus, and a limited information exchange. Education was identified as the best way to improve collaboration and considered a prerequisite for a successful implementation of other proposed solutions. Hence, the implementation sequence is of importance in order to improve the collaboration successfully. First step is to establish alignment regarding collaboration with all involved professionals to encounter the lack of motivation of non-AC professionals and lack of time.
PMCID: PMC3268100  PMID: 22192088
17.  Errors in medication history at hospital admission: prevalence and predicting factors 
An accurate medication list at hospital admission is essential for the evaluation and further treatment of patients. The objective of this study was to describe the frequency, type and predictors of errors in medication history, and to evaluate the extent to which standard care corrects these errors.
A descriptive study was carried out in two medical wards in a Swedish hospital using Lund Integrated Medicines Management (LIMM)-based medication reconciliation. A clinical pharmacist identified each patient's most accurate pre-admission medication list by conducting a medication reconciliation process shortly after admission. This list was then compared with the patient's medication list in the hospital medical records. Addition or withdrawal of a drug or changes to the dose or dosage form in the hospital medication list were considered medication discrepancies. Medication discrepancies for which no clinical reason could be identified (unintentional changes) were considered medication history errors.
The final study population comprised 670 of 818 eligible patients. At least one medication history error was identified by pharmacists conducting medication reconciliations for 313 of these patients (47%; 95% CI 43-51%). The most common medication error was an omitted drug, followed by a wrong dose. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that a higher number of drugs at admission (odds ratio [OR] per 1 drug increase = 1.10; 95% CI 1.06-1.14; p < 0.0001) and the patient living in their own home without any care services (OR = 1.58; 95% CI 1.02-2.45; p = 0.042) were predictors for medication history errors at admission. The results further indicated that standard care by non-pharmacist ward staff had partly corrected the errors in affected patients by four days after admission, but a considerable proportion of the errors made in the initial medication history at admission remained undetected by standard care (OR for medication errors detected by pharmacists' medication reconciliation carried out on days 4-11 compared to days 0-1 = 0.52; 95% CI 0.30-0.91; p=0.021).
Clinical pharmacists conducting LIMM-based medication reconciliations have a high potential for correcting errors in medication history for all patients. In an older Swedish population, those prescribed many drugs seem to benefit most from admission medication reconciliation.
PMCID: PMC3353244  PMID: 22471836
18.  Collaborative pharmaceutical care in an Irish hospital: uncontrolled before-after study 
BMJ Quality & Safety  2014;23(7):574-583.
We investigated the benefits of the Collaborative Pharmaceutical Care in Tallaght Hospital (PACT) service versus standard ward-based clinical pharmacy in adult inpatients receiving acute medical care, particularly on prevalence of medication error and quality of prescribing.
Uncontrolled before-after study, undertaken in consecutive adult medical inpatients admitted and discharged alive, using at least three medications. Standard care involved clinical pharmacists being ward-based, contributing to medication history taking and prescription review, but not involved at discharge. The innovative PACT intervention involved clinical pharmacists being team-based, leading admission and discharge medication reconciliation and undertaking prescription review. Primary outcome measures were prevalence per patient of medication error and potentially severe error. Secondary measures included quality of prescribing using the Medication Appropriateness Index (MAI) in patients aged ≥65 years.
Some 233 patients (112 PACT, 121 standard) were included. PACT decreased the prevalence of any medication error at discharge (adjusted OR 0.07 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.15)); number needed to treat (NNT) 3 (95% CI 2 to 3) and no PACT patient experienced a potentially severe error (NNT 20, 95% CI 10 to 142). In patients aged ≥65 years (n=108), PACT improved the MAI score from preadmission to discharge (Mann–Whitney U p<0.05; PACT median −1, IQR −3.75 to 0; standard care median +1, IQR −1 to +6).
PACT, a collaborative model of pharmaceutical care involving medication reconciliation and review, delivered by clinical pharmacists and physicians, at admission, during inpatient care and at discharge was protective against potentially severe medication errors in acute medical patients and improved the quality of prescribing in older patients.
PMCID: PMC4078714  PMID: 24505112
Medication reconciliation; Medication safety; Pharmacists; Transitions in care; Teamwork
19.  Design and Implementation of an Application and Associated Services to Support Interdisciplinary Medication Reconciliation Efforts at an Integrated Healthcare Delivery Network 
Confusion about patients’ medication regimens during the hospital admission and discharge process accounts for many preventable and serious medication errors. Many organizations have begun to redesign their clinical processes to address this patient safety concern. Partners HealthCare, an integrated delivery network in Boston, Massachusetts, has answered this interdisciplinary challenge by leveraging its multiple outpatient electronic medical records (EMR) and inpatient computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems to facilitate the process of medication reconciliation. This manuscript describes the design of a novel application and the associated services that aggregate medication data from EMR and CPOE systems so that clinicians can efficiently generate an accurate pre-admission medication list. Information collected with the use of this application subsequently supports the writing of admission and discharge orders by physicians, performance of admission assessment by nurses, and reconciliation of inpatient orders by pharmacists. Results from early pilot testing suggest that this new medication reconciliation process is well accepted by clinicians and has significant potential to prevent medication errors during transitions of care.
PMCID: PMC1656965  PMID: 17114640
20.  Improving patient discharge and reducing hospital readmissions by using Intervention Mapping 
There is a growing impetus to reorganize the hospital discharge process to reduce avoidable readmissions and costs. The aim of this study was to provide insight into hospital discharge problems and underlying causes, and to give an overview of solutions that guide providers and policy-makers in improving hospital discharge.
The Intervention Mapping framework was used. First, a problem analysis studying the scale, causes, and consequences of ineffective hospital discharge was carried out. The analysis was based on primary data from 26 focus group interviews and 321 individual interviews with patients and relatives, and involved hospital and community care providers. Second, improvements in terms of intervention outcomes, performance objectives and change objectives were specified. Third, 220 experts were consulted and a systematic review of effective discharge interventions was carried out to select theory-based methods and practical strategies required to achieve change and better performance.
Ineffective discharge is related to factors at the level of the individual care provider, the patient, the relationship between providers, and the organisational and technical support for care providers. Providers can reduce hospital readmission rates and adverse events by focusing on high-quality discharge information, well-coordinated care, and direct and timely communication with their counterpart colleagues. Patients, or their carers, should participate in the discharge process and be well aware of their health status and treatment. Assessment by hospital care providers whether discharge information is accurate and understood by patients and their community counterparts, are important examples of overcoming identified barriers to effective discharge. Discharge templates, medication reconciliation, a liaison nurse or pharmacist, regular site visits and teach-back are identified as effective and promising strategies to achieve the desired behavioural and environmental change.
This study provides a comprehensive guiding framework for providers and policy-makers to improve patient handover from hospital to primary care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-389) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4175223  PMID: 25218406
Patient handoff; Patient discharge; Patient readmission; Intervention mapping; Adverse events
21.  Medication Reconciliation Accuracy and Patient Understanding of Intended Medication Changes on Hospital Discharge 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2012;27(11):1513-1520.
Adverse drug events after hospital discharge are common and often serious. These events may result from provider errors or patient misunderstanding.
To determine the prevalence of medication reconciliation errors and patient misunderstanding of discharge medications.
Prospective cohort study
Patients over 64 years of age admitted with heart failure, acute coronary syndrome or pneumonia and discharged to home.
We assessed medication reconciliation accuracy by comparing admission to discharge medication lists and reviewing charts to resolve discrepancies. Medication reconciliation changes that did not appear intentional were classified as suspected provider errors. We assessed patient understanding of intended medication changes through post-discharge interviews. Understanding was scored as full, partial or absent. We tested the association of relevance of the medication to the primary diagnosis with medication accuracy and with patient understanding, accounting for patient demographics, medical team and primary diagnosis.
A total of 377 patients were enrolled in the study. A total of 565/2534 (22.3 %) of admission medications were redosed or stopped at discharge. Of these, 137 (24.2 %) were classified as suspected provider errors. Excluding suspected errors, patients had no understanding of 142/205 (69.3 %) of redosed medications, 182/223 (81.6 %) of stopped medications, and 493 (62.0 %) of new medications. Altogether, 307 patients (81.4 %) either experienced a provider error, or had no understanding of at least one intended medication change. Providers were significantly more likely to make an error on a medication unrelated to the primary diagnosis than on a medication related to the primary diagnosis (odds ratio (OR) 4.56, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 2.65, 7.85, p < 0.001). Patients were also significantly more likely to misunderstand medication changes unrelated to the primary diagnosis (OR 2.45, 95 % CI 1.68, 3.55), p < 0.001).
Medication reconciliation and patient understanding are inadequate in older patients post-discharge. Errors and misunderstandings are particularly common in medications unrelated to the primary diagnosis. Efforts to improve medication reconciliation and patient understanding should not be disease-specific, but should be focused on the whole patient.
PMCID: PMC3475816  PMID: 22798200
quality of care; acute coronary syndrome; heart failure; pneumonia; discharge instructions; medication reconciliation; adverse drug events; adverse events; patient education
22.  Perceived facilitators and barriers in diabetes care: a qualitative study among health care professionals in the Netherlands 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:114.
The need to understand barriers to the implementation of health care innovations in daily practice has been widely documented, but perceived facilitators and barriers in diabetes care by Dutch health care professionals remain unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate these factors among health care professionals (HCPs) using a qualitative research design.
Data were collected from 18 semi-structured interviews with HCPs from all professions relevant to diabetes care. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and the data were analyzed using NVivo 8.0.
Major facilitators were the more prominent role of the practice nurses and diabetes nurses in diabetes care, benchmarking, the Care Standard (CS) of the Netherlands Diabetes federation and multidisciplinary collaboration, although collaboration with certain professional groups (i.e. dieticians, physical therapists and pharmacists), as well as the collaboration between primary and secondary care, could still be improved. The bundled payment system for the funding of diabetes care and the role of the health insurers were perceived as major barriers within the health care system. Other important barriers were reported to be the lack of motivation among patients and the lack of awareness of lifestyle programs and prevention initiatives for diabetes patients among professionals.
Organizational changes in diabetes care, as a result of the increased attention given to management continuity of care, have led to an increased need for multidisciplinary collaboration within and between health care sectors (e.g. public health, primary care and secondary care). To date, daily routines for shared care are still sub-optimal and improvements in facilities, such as registration systems, should be implemented to further optimize communication and exchange of information.
PMCID: PMC3751909  PMID: 23937325
Diabetes; Health care professionals; Facilitators; Barriers
23.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
24.  Evaluation and implications of natural product use in preoperative patients: a retrospective review 
Medication Reconciliation and Medication Safety are two themes emphasized in a variety of healthcare organizations. As a result, health care facilities have established methods for obtaining a patient's medication history. However, these methods may vary among institutions or even among the health care professionals in a single institution, and studies have shown that patients are reluctant to disclose their complementary and alternative medicine use to any health care professional. This lack of disclosure is important in surgical patients because of potential herbal interactions with medications and drugs used during the surgical procedure; and the potential for adverse reactions including effects on coagulation, blood pressure, sedation, electrolytes or diuresis. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to identify patterns of natural product use, to identify potential complications among patients scheduled for surgery, to improve existing medication reconciliation efforts, and to develop discontinuation guidelines for the use of these products prior to surgery.
A retrospective review of surgery patients presenting to the Anesthesia Preoperative Evaluation Clinic (APEC) at the University of Kansas Hospital was conducted to identify the prevalence of natural product use. The following data was collected: patient age; gender; allergy information; date of medication history; number of days prior to surgery; source of medication history; credentials of person obtaining the history; number and name of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and natural products; and natural product dosage. Following the collection of data and analysis of the most common natural products used, possible complications and interactions were identified, and a protocol regarding the pre-operative use of natural products was developed and implemented.
Approximately one-fourth of patients seen in the APEC indicated the use of natural products. Patients taking natural products were significantly older, were more likely to undergo cardiac or chest surgery, and were more likely to be taking more prescription and non-prescription medications (all p < 0.001).
Based on the results of this study, it is concluded that there is a need for established guidelines regarding discontinuation of selected natural products prior to surgery and further education is needed concerning the perioperative implications of natural products.
PMCID: PMC2770030  PMID: 19825176
25.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749

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