BACKGROUND: Medication errors occur frequently in the intensive care unit (ICU) and during care transitions. Chronic medication is often temporarily stopped at the ICU. Unfortunately, when the patient improves, the restart of this medication is easily forgotten. Moreover, temporal ICU medication is often unintentionally continued after ICU discharge. Medication reconciliation could be useful to prevent such errors. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of medication reconciliation at the ICU.
METHODS: This prospective 8-month study with a pre- and post-design was carried out in two ICU settings in the Netherlands. Patients were included when they used ≥ 1 chronic medicine and when the ICU stay exceeded 24 h. The intervention consisted of medication reconciliation by pharmacists at the moment of ICU admission and prior to ICU discharge. Medication transfer errors (MTEs) were collected and the severity of potential harm of these MTEs was measured, based on a potential adverse drug event score (pADE = 0; 0.01; 0.1; 0.4; 0.6). Primary outcome measures were the proportions of patients with ≥ 1 MTE at ICU admission and after discharge. Secondary outcome measures were the proportions of patients with a pADE score ≥ 0.01 due to these MTEs, the severity of the pADEs and the associated costs. Odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, by using a multivariate logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS: In the pre-intervention phase, 266 patients were included and 212 in the post-intervention phase. The proportion of patients with ≥ 1 MTE at ICU admission was reduced from 45.1 to 14.6% (ORadj 0.18 [95% CI 0.11-0.30]) and after discharge from 73.9 to 41.2% (ORadj 0.24 [95% CI 0.15-0.37]). The proportion of patients with a pADE ≥ 0.01 at ICU admission was reduced from 34.8 to 8.0% (ORadj 0.13 [95% CI 0.07-0.24]) and after discharge from 69.5 to 36.2% (ORadj 0.26 [95% CI 0.17-0.40]). The pADE reduction resulted in a potential net cost-benefit of € 103 per patient.
CONCLUSIONS: Medication reconciliation by pharmacists at ICU transfers is an effective safety intervention, leading to a significant decrease in the number of MTE and a cost-effective reduction in potential harm. Trial registration Dutch trial register: NTR4159, 5 September 2013, retrospectively registered.