A goal for patient safety from the Joint Commission is to accurately and completely reconcile (critically compare) medications across the continuum of care. This means that medications are reviewed at critical transfer points such as:
- admission to the hospital
- transfer between hospital units
- transfer to home
- transfer to another facility
Patients can help further reduce medication errors by doing the following:
- keep an up-to-date list of medications
- bring medications to the hospital or other clinical site when being treated
- learn generic and trade names for medications
- share allergy and medication reaction information as needed
- take an active role in healthcare by keeping notes and asking questions
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (February, 2005; 165(4): 424-429) demonstrated that the most common medication error was omission of a routinely-used medication. Antibiotics, however, are taken for only seven to 10 days but can be forgotten at critical transfer points since they are rarely part of an ongoing medication regimen.
Reinfection and superinfection (a new infection in addition to the one already present, which may not respond to antibiotics) can occur when antibiotics are not taken for the prescribed number of days, so this type of error can be hazardous and costly.