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Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2008 Feb;37(2):136-6.

Medication use in the transition from hospital to home.

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  • 1Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


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 nonadherence. Several barriers to successful discharge counselling, 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 facilitates 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.

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