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J Hosp Med. 2010 Feb;5(2):83-6. doi: 10.1002/jhm.566.

Lack of patient knowledge regarding hospital medications.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado, USA.



Patient involvement in preventing inpatient medication errors is predicated upon patient knowledge of their medications. However, there is little published on the accuracy of patient knowledge or understanding of their hospital medications.


To assess hospitalized patients' knowledge of their hospital medications and attitudes towards involvement in the medication safety process while hospitalized.


A cross-sectional study of 50 adult internal medicine inpatients at the University of Colorado Hospital. Patients completed a list of the hospital medications they believed were prescribed to them and a survey of attitudes toward involvement in the medication safety process. The patient-completed hospital medication list was compared to the hospital medication administration record.


Ninety-six percent of study patients omitted at least one prescribed hospital medication. On average, patients omitted 6.8 hospital medications. Forty-four percent of patients believed they were receiving at least one hospital medication that was not actually prescribed. Patients < 65 years old omitted 60% of their as needed (PRN) medications whereas patients > or = 65 years old omitted 88% (P = 0.01). Only 28% reported having seen their hospital medication list, although 81% reported this would improve their satisfaction with hospital care. Ninety percent wanted to review their hospital medication list for accuracy and 94% felt patient review of the hospital medication list had the potential to reduce errors.


Our findings suggest that, in contrast to patient preferences, there are significant deficits in patients' knowledge of hospital medications. These results are a call to reexamine how we educate patients regarding their hospital medications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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