Medication Reconciliation During Internal Hospital Transfer and Impact of Computerized Prescriber Order Entry Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background: Internal hospital transfer is a vulnerable time during which patients are at high risk of medication discrepancies that can result in clinically significant harm, medication errors, and adverse drug events. Objective: To identify, characterize, and assess the clinical impact of unintentional medication discrepancies during internal hospital transfer and to investigate the influence of computerized prescriber order entry (CPOE) on medication discrepancies. Methods: All patients transferred between 10 inpatient units at 2 tertiary care hospitals were prospectively assessed to identify discrepancies. Interfaces included transfers between (1) units that both used paper-based medication ordering systems; (2) units that both used CPOE-based systems; and (3) units that used both paper-based and CPOE-based systems (hybrid transfer). The primary endpoint was the number of patients with at least 1 unintentional medication discrepancy during internal hospital transfer. Discrepancies were identified through assessment and comparison of a best possible medication transfer list with the actual transfer orders. A multidisciplinary team of clinicians assessed the potential clinical impact and severity of unintentional discrepancies. Results: Overall, 190 patients were screened and 129 patients were included. Eighty patients (62.0%) had at least 1 unintentional medication discrepancy at the time of transfer, and the most common discrepancy was medication omission (55.6%). Factors that independently increased the risk of a patient experiencing at least 1 unintentional discrepancy included lack of best possible medication history, increasing number of home medications, and increasing number of transfer medications. Forty-seven patients (36.4%) had at least 1 unintentional discrepancy with the potential to cause discomfort and/or clinical deterioration. The risk of discrepancies was present regardless of the medication-ordering system (paper, CPOE, or hybrid). Conclusions: Clinically significant medication discrepancies occur commonly during internal hospital transfer. A structured, collaborative, and clearly defined medication reconciliation process is needed to prevent internal transfer discrepancies and patient harm.


  • Lee, Justin
  • Leblanc, Kori
  • Fernandes, Olavo A
  • Huh, Jin-Hyeun
  • Wong, Gary G
  • Hamandi, Bassem
  • Lazar, Neil M
  • Morra, Dante
  • Bajcar, Jana M
  • Harrison, Jennifer

publication date

  • December 2010