Cedars-Sinai sees 80% drop in medication errors when drug histories are taken down by pharmacy staff

Researchers at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that medication order mistakes can be significantly reduced when pharmacy staff members take down patients' medication histories in the emergency room.

Researchers examined 306 complex condition patients at Cedars-Sinai who were taking 10 or more prescription drugs and had a history of heart failure or other serious conditions.

The study shows that when pharmacists or pharmacy technicians, rather than medical staff, noted down patients' drug histories in the ER, errors in both the histories and medication orders decreased by more than 80 percent.

"The standard practice in the U.S. is for doctors and nurses to take these histories, along with simultaneously delivering and coordinating care for the patients," said Joshua Pevnick, MD, associate director of Cedars-Sinai's division of informatics and the study's first author. "That's why it's so helpful to assign this task to pharmacy experts, whose sole role is to take these histories."

The researchers published their findings in BMJ Quality & Safety.

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