Accuracy of best possible medication history documentation by pharmacists at an Australian tertiary referral metropolitan hospital

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To determine the quality of best possible medication history (BPMH) taking activities undertaken by pharmacists. To identify factors which impact upon erroneous documentation. To assess risks associated with erroneous documentation of BPMH by pharmacists.


A clinical pharmacist randomly selected patients across a tertiary referral, metropolitan hospital over an 9-day period and documented comparator medication histories (CMHs) using a structured interview. BPMH documented by pharmacists as part of routine care and CMH were compared, and erroneous documentation was classified according to previous definitions in the literature. Erroneous documentation was risk stratified.


99 BPMH and CMH were compared. There were 14 medication omissions which occurred across 10 patients and 14 discrepancies across 12 patients. There was no association identified between erroneous documentation and pharmacist seniority/experience (p=0.25), where BPMH taken (p=0.7), day of week BPMH documented (p=0.45) or time since admission to when BPMH was documented (p=1). Patient age did not impact erroneous documentation rates (p=0.22). There was an association between the number of sources used to confirm a medication history and erroneous documentation incidence (p=0.035). The number of medications increased the rate of documentation error. While 85.19% (n=115) of erroneous documentation were deemed unlikely to cause patient discomfort or clinical deterioration, 1.48% (n=2) had the potential to result in severe discomfort or clinical deterioration.


Six out of seven BPMH documented by pharmacists as part of usual clinical practice are accurate. Major influences on accuracy include the number of medications and sources used. There is a low possibility that erroneous documentation by pharmacists will cause harm.

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