Info packets instead of a pharmacist used in attempt to improve medication adherence

angry_monkeyI came across an article today in The Baltimore Sun that caught my attention.

According to the article: “In a test of services geared toward making sure patients took their prescribed medications after leaving the emergency room, none made a difference, a large new study suggests.

Based on the experiment involving nearly 4,000 ER patients, researchers found that information packets, personal assistance and even access to an on-call medical librarian to answer questions about the drugs did not lead patients to fill more prescriptions or to take them as directed when they left the hospital.”

The best line from the article has to be that patients were given “access to an on-call medical librarian to answer questions about the drugs [they were prescribed]” This has to get the head-scratcher of the year award. The lunacy of healthcare never ceases to amaze me. Why, oh why would you give patients access to a medical librarian to answer drug questions. I have great respect for medical librarians, but that’s not their domain.

And as a surprise to no one, “One week after ER discharge, 88 percent of patients had filled their prescription, according to pharmacy records, and in a phone interview 48 percent reported taking the medication as prescribed. Those percentages did not differ between the participating groups.”

No kidding. Medication adherence is an incredibly complex problem with many different reasons why patients choose not to get their prescriptions filled or fail to take them consistently and accurately.

Depending on the study you read, medication adherence costs the United States anywhere from $100 billion to $290 billion annually, including increased morbidity, lost time from work, readmissions, etc. Pharmacists have been shown to help. Handing out pamphlets has not.

Honestly, I’m surprised that the Annals of Emergency Medicine would publish such crap. My cats leave equivalent work in the yard all the time, but at least they try to cover it up.

The article – Does Providing Prescription Information or Services Improve Medication Adherence Among Patients Discharged From the Emergency Department? A Randomized Controlled Trial – can be found here.


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