Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 537–542 | Cite as

Effect of Education on the Recording of Medicines on Admission to Hospital

  • Amy Hai Yan Chan
  • Elizabeth Garratt
  • Benjamin Lawrence
  • Nicholas Turnbull
  • Priya Pratapsingh
  • Peter N. Black
Original Article



The inaccurate recording of medicines on admission to hospital is an important cause of medication error. Medication reconciliation has been used to identify and correct these errors.


To determine if a multimodal intervention involving medication reconciliation with real-time feedback and education would reduce the number of errors made by medical staff when recording medicines at the time of admission to hospital.


Observational study.


Patients admitted to the general medical wards of a teaching hospital were studied prospectively. Patients ≥75 years of age and on ≥5 medications were identified as the ‘target group.’


After admission, a second medication history was taken, and discrepancies were identified and communicated to the medical teams. An educational intervention to encourage prescribers to obtain accurate medication histories was conducted at the same time.


The discrepancy rate was measured before and after the intervention.


There were 470 admissions in the ‘target group.’ Three hundred and thirty-eight of the admissions (71.9%) had one or more unintentional discrepancies. Although many discrepancies had little potential to cause harm, 33% were rated as clinically significant. During the study the discrepancy rate (prior to reconciliation) fell from 2.6 (SD 2.6) to 1.0 (SD 1.1) per admission (p < 0.0001). This decline in discrepancy rate remained significant (p = 0.001) even when only clinically important discrepancies were included. The proportion of admissions with one or more clinically important discrepancies also decreased during the study from 46% to 24% (p = 0.023).


Errors in the recording of medicines at the time of hospital admission are common. Combining the feedback provided by medication reconciliation with prescriber education reduced the error rate. This approach may be useful when the resources are not available to perform medication reconciliation for all patients admitted to hospital.


medical education medical errors medical record system 



Amy Chan was supported by a summer studentship from the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust. The project was funded by the Auckland District Health Board. The results of this study were presented at the meeting of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology in Auckland, New Zealand, on 31 August 2007

We would like to dedicate this study to the late Professor Peter Black who originally formulated the idea of this project. We would like to thank all the medical staff, pharmacists and nurses involved in this project. We are particularly grateful to Paul Gelber, Rob Ticehurst, Lynne Byers (Pharmacy); John Henley, David Spriggs, Matt Dawes (General Medicine); Lisa Noonan (Pharmacology) and to Greg Gamble, Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, for assistance with the statistical analysis.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Hai Yan Chan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Garratt
    • 1
    • 4
  • Benjamin Lawrence
    • 4
  • Nicholas Turnbull
    • 4
  • Priya Pratapsingh
    • 3
  • Peter N. Black
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Clinical PharmacologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Pharmacy DepartmentAuckland City HospitalAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.General Medical ServiceAuckland City HospitalAucklandNew Zealand

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