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Emergency departments (EDs) are recognized as a high-risk setting for prescription errors. Pharmacist involvement may be important in reviewing prescriptions to identify and correct errors. The objectives of this study were to describe the frequency and type of prescription errors detected by pharmacists in EDs, determine the proportion of errors that could be corrected, and identify factors associated with prescription errors.
This prospective observational study was conducted in a tertiary care teaching ED on 25 consecutive weekdays. Pharmacists reviewed all documented prescriptions and flagged and corrected errors for patients in the ED. We collected information on patient demographics, details on prescription errors, and the pharmacists’ recommendations.
A total of 3,136 ED prescriptions were reviewed. The proportion of prescriptions in which a pharmacist identified an error was 3.2% (99 of 3,136; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.5–3.8). The types of identified errors were wrong dose (28 of 99, 28.3%), incomplete prescription (27 of 99, 27.3%), wrong frequency (15 of 99, 15.2%), wrong drug (11 of 99, 11.1%), wrong route (1 of 99, 1.0%), and other (17 of 99, 17.2%). The pharmacy service intervened and corrected 78 (78 of 99, 78.8%) errors. Factors associated with prescription errors were patient age over 65 (odds ratio [OR] 2.34; 95% CI 1.32–4.13), prescriptions with more than one medication (OR 5.03; 95% CI 2.54–9.96), and those written by emergency medicine residents compared to attending emergency physicians (OR 2.21, 95% CI 1.18–4.14).
Pharmacists in a tertiary ED are able to correct the majority of prescriptions in which they find errors. Errors are more likely to be identified in prescriptions written for older patients, those containing multiple medication orders, and those prescribed by emergency residents.
Managers of emergency departments (EDs), governments and researchers would benefit from reliable data sets that characterize use of EDs. Although Canadian ED lists for chief complaints and triage acuity exist, no such list exists for diagnosis classification. This study was aimed at developing a standardized Canadian Emergency Department Diagnosis Shortlist (CED-DxS), as a subset of the full International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, with Canadian Enhancement (ICD-10-CA).
Emergency physicians from across Canada participated in the revision of the ICD-10-CA through 2 rounds of the modified Delphi method. We randomly assigned chapters from the ICD-10-CA (approximately 3000 diagnoses) to reviewers, who rated the importance of including each diagnosis in the ED-specific diagnosis list. If 80% or more of the reviewers agreed on the importance of a diagnosis, it was retained for the final revision. The retained diagnoses were further aggregated and adjusted, thus creating the CED-DxS.
Of the 83 reviewers, 76% were emergency medicine (EM)–trained physicians with an average of 12 years of experience in EM, and 92% were affiliated with a university teaching hospital. The modified Delphi process and further adjustments resulted in the creation of the CED-DxS, containing 837 items. The chapter with the largest number of retained diagnoses was injury and poisoning (n = 292), followed by gastrointestinal (n = 59), musculoskeletal (n = 55) and infectious disease (n = 42). Chapters with the lowest number retained were neoplasm (n = 18) and pregnancy (n = 12).
We report the creation of the uniform CED-DxS, tailored for Canadian EDs. The addition of ED diagnoses to existing standardized parameters for the ED will contribute to homogeneity of data across the country.
It has been suggested that continuity of care is hampered because of the lack of communication between emergency departments (EDs) and primary care providers. A web-based, standardized communication system (SCS) that enables family physicians (FPs) to visualize information regarding their patients' ED visits was developed. This paper aims to evaluate the impact of this SCS on continuity of care.
We conducted an open, 4-period crossover, cluster-randomized controlled trial of 23 FP practices. During the intervention phase, FPs received detailed reports via SCS, while in the control phase they received mailed copies of the ED notes. Continuity of care was evaluated with a web questionnaire completed by FPs 21 days after the ED visit. The primary measures of continuity of care were knowledge of ED visit (quality and quantity), patient management and follow-up rate.
We analyzed a total of 2022 ED visits (1048 intervention and 974 control). The intervention group received information regarding the ED visit more often (odds ratio [OR] 3.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6–3.79), found the information more useful (OR 5.1, 95% CI 3.49–7.46), possessed a better knowledge of the ED visit (OR 6.28, 95% CI 5.12–7.71), felt they could better manage patients (OR 2.46, 95% CI 2.02–2.99) and initiated actions more often following receipt of information (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.36–1.93). However, there was no significant difference in the follow-up rate at FPs offices (OR 1.25, 95% CI 0.97–1.61).
The use of SCS between an ED and FPs led to significant improvements in continuity of care by increasing the usefulness of transferred information and by improving FPs' perceived patient knowledge and patient management.
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