The medication reconciliation process and classification of discrepancies: a systematic review

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Medication reconciliation is a part of the medication management process and facilitates improved patient safety during care transitions. The aims of the study were to evaluate how medication reconciliation has been conducted and how medication discrepancies have been classified.


We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PubMed, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA), and Web of Science (WOS), in accordance with the PRISMA statement up to April 2016. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they evaluated the types of medication discrepancy found through the medication reconciliation process and contained a classification system for discrepancies. Data were extracted by one author based on a predefined table, and 10% of included studies were verified by two authors.


Ninety-five studies met the inclusion criteria. Approximately one-third of included studies (n = 35, 36.8%) utilized a ‘gold’ standard medication list. The majority of studies (n = 57, 60%) used an empirical classification system and the number of classification terms ranged from 2 to 50 terms. Whilst we identified three taxonomies, only eight studies utilized these tools to categorize discrepancies, and 11.6% of included studies used different patient safety related terms rather than discrepancy to describe the disagreement between the medication lists.


We suggest that clear and consistent information on prevalence, types, causes and contributory factors of medication discrepancy are required to develop suitable strategies to reduce the risk of adverse consequences on patient safety. Therefore, to obtain that information, we need a well-designed taxonomy to be able to accurately measure, report and classify medication discrepancies in clinical practice.

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