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Medication Discrepancies at Transitions in Pediatrics: A Review of the Literature

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Medication reconciliation is an important process in reducing medication errors in many countries. Canada, the USA, and UK have incorporated medication reconciliation as a priority area for national patient safety initiatives and goals. The UK national guidance excludes the pediatric population. The aim of this review was to explore the occurrence of medication discrepancies in the pediatric population. The primary objective was to identify studies reporting the rate and clinical significance of the discrepancies and the secondary objective was to ascertain whether any specific interventions have been used for medication reconciliation in pediatric settings. The following electronic bibliographic databases were used to identify studies: PubMed, OVID EMBASE (1980 to 2012 week 1), ISI Web of Science, ISI Biosis, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and OVID International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to January 2012). Primary studies were identified that observed medication discrepancies in children under 18 years of age upon hospital admission, transfer and discharge, or had reported medication reconciliation interventions. Two independent reviewers screened titles and abstracts for relevant articles and extracted data using pre-defined data fields, including risk of bias assessment. Ten studies were identified with variances in reportage of stage and rate of discrepancies. Studies were heterogeneous in definitions, methods, and patient populations. Most studies related to admissions and reported consistently high rates of discrepancies ranging from 22 to 72.3 % of patients (sample size ranging from 23 to 272). Seven of the studies were low-quality observational studies and three studies were ‘grey literature’ non-peer reviewed conference abstracts. Studies involving small numbers of patients have shown that medication discrepancies occur at all transitions of care in children. Further research is required to investigate and demonstrate how implementing medication reconciliation can reduce discrepancies and potential patient harm.

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This literature review was funded by the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group in the UK as part of the pre-clinical phase for the study, “The clinical significance of medication reconciliation (MR) in children admitted to hospital: development and evaluation of pharmacy led admission services.” The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Correspondence to Yogini Jani.

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Huynh, C., Wong, I.C.K., Tomlin, S. et al. Medication Discrepancies at Transitions in Pediatrics: A Review of the Literature. Pediatr Drugs 15, 203–215 (2013).

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