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Medication follow-up after release of patient is essential

A professor at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy is concerned about the lack of post-discharge medication management for patients released from the hospital. Patients are not often cognitive of side effects or other drug related reactions that should alert them to problems concerning the medications they have been prescribed. Such medication errors can lead to changes such as weight gain for a patient with congestive heart failure that could have significant adverse effects upon the patient's health.

Without consistent follow-up concerning the various effects of medication use following hospitalization, the frequent result is the patient's readmission to the hospital which likely could have been avoided. Approximately 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30-days of release, and this is generally due to the negative effects of a prescribed medication.

This type of problem could possibly be resolved with patients receiving medical and pharmaceutical consultations following their release from the hospital. This may be as simple as counseling at discharge with follow-up phone calls to ascertain whether patients are suffering from any adverse effects due to the medications they are taking. Such follow-up could also include other family members that are placed in the role of caretaker for the released patient.

Ultimately, doctors and medical care providers need to fully communicate with their patients to make sure that patients are clear as to instructions concerning taking of medications after release from the hospital. Miscommunications are what lead to patient injuries and result in the patient obtaining an attorney to file a medical malpractice suit.

Patients left on their own are going to often be influenced by outside considerations if they do not understand the potential problems that could occur with the taking of medications. For example, patients may delay in picking up the medication from the pharmacy during bad weather. Or patients may discover the medication was much more expensive than they ever imagined and therefore decide to go without. All of these concerns should be addressed in advance before patients make their own decisions concerning the taking of medications.

Source: Pharmacy Practice News, "Programs Bridge Gap In Care Between The Hospital and Home," by Steve Frandzel, Jan. 2012

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