Has Your Medication Been Discontinued?
Although more than 85,000 medications are discontinued each year, pharmacists may not know that, according to a new study. So pharmacies continue to dispense the medications.
"This is a novel patient safety issue that has not been measured previously,” senior author Thomas Sequist, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, said in a statement.
The study, conducted at Harvard Vanguard, reviewed 400 medical charts and found that discontinued medications had been dispensed in 1.5 percent of the cases. Among that group, 12 percent of medications carried potential risks ranging from lightheadedness and nausea to low blood pressure and allergic reaction.
Many physicians, the study authors said, assume that their patients know a medication has been discontinued and will simply stop taking it.
Lead author Adrienne Allen, MD, MPH, associate medical director of Quality, Safety, and Risk at North Shore Physicians Group, said in a statement that the study indicated a need for increased awareness among physicians, pharmacies and patients.
"Future research should focus,” Allen said, “on evaluating methods of improving communication between providers and pharmacies to better reconcile medication lists, as well as explore strategies to improve patient knowledge and awareness of their medication regimen.”
The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.