Cross-sectional survey of patients' need for information and support with medicines after discharge from hospital

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Abstract

Background

Most patients experience changes to prescribed medicines during a hospital stay. Ensuring they understand such changes is important for preventing adverse events post-discharge and optimising patient understanding. However, little work has explored the information that patients receive about medicines or their perceived needs for information and support after discharge.

Objectives

To determine information that hospital inpatients who experience medicine changes receive about their medicines during admission and their needs and preferences for, and use of, post-discharge support.

Methods

Cross-sectional survey with adult medical inpatients experiencing medicine changes in six English hospitals, with telephone follow-up 2–3 weeks post-discharge.

Key findings

A total of 444 inpatients completed surveys, and 99 of these were followed up post-discharge. Of the 444, 44 (10%) were unaware of changes to medicines and 65 (16%) did not recall discussing them with a health professional, but 305 (77%) reported understanding the changes. Type of information provided and patients' perceived need for post-discharge support differed between hospitals. Information about changes was most frequently provided by consultant medical staff (157; 39%) with pharmacists providing information least often (71; 17%). One third of patients surveyed considered community pharmacists as potential sources of information about medicines and associated support post-discharge. Post-discharge, just 5% had spoken to a pharmacist, although 35% reported medicine-related problems.

Conclusion

In north-west England, patient inclusion in treatment decisions could be improved, but provision of information prior to discharge is reasonable. There is scope to develop hospital and community pharmacists' role in medicine optimisation to maximise safety and effectiveness of care.

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