Objectives: NICE/NPSA excluded children under 16 from their guidance concerning medicines reconciliation (MR) upon admission.1 Our aims and objectives of conducting the literature review was to identify the epidemiology of medication discrepancies upon admission, transfer and discharge in children, and if they require MR.
Method: Six bibliographical databases (Medline, Embase, CINAHL, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Web of Science and Biosis Previews) and selected key words were used to find epidemiological studies on medication discrepancies in children upon hospital admission, transfer and discharge (key words included ‘medication discrepancy’; ‘medication reconciliation’; ‘hospital admission’; ‘hospital discharge’; ‘hospital transfer’); studies where the data for children could be extracted were included.
Results: From the 1239 articles found (in May 2011), eight of the articles had extractable paediatric information, (five from Canada, two from USA, one from UK). Five of the studies involved discrepancies on admission, one involved discrepancies on admission and transfer, one involved discrepancies at transfer and one considered discharge. The reference point used to compare against the admission, transfer and the discharge order differed in each of the studies. Four studies used a rating scale to assess the clinical significance of the discrepancies to demonstrate the potential adverse clinical outcome of patients in the absence of clinical intervention. Two studies2 3 used a rating scale that was used in adults.4 A study of paediatric neurosurgical patients found that initial hospital prescriptions for children differed from the preadmission prescriptions in 39% of occasions and 50% of all prescribing variations had the potential to cause moderate or severe discomfort or clinical deterioration.2 A study by Coffey et al in general paediatric admissions in Canada showed 22% of patients experienced at least one discrepancy and 29% of the discrepancies had the potential to cause moderate or severe discomfort or clinical deterioration.3 By comparison an epidemiological study in discrepancies in adults on admission had 38.6% of the discrepancies identified with a potential to cause moderate or severe discomfort or clinical deterioration.4 All the studies involved small samples or specific patient groups such as medically complex patients. However all of the studies demonstrated that discrepancies occurred among paediatric populations during transitions in care settings and mentioned MR as an intervention.
Conclusion: The results have shown that discrepancies of medication upon hospital admission, transfer and discharge occur regularly in children. With only one published study in the UK looking at hospital admission in children, and no published articles on the incidence and epidemiology of medication discrepancies upon hospital transfer or discharge further research is required in a wider paediatric population. Further work is also required to define the required interventions to improve practice.
Abstracts of the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group Conference, 11–13 November 2011. Poster presentations.