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Hospital discharge information communication and prescribing errors: a narrative literature overview.

Mills, Pamela Ruth; Weidmann, Anita Elaine; Stewart, Derek


Pamela Ruth Mills

Anita Elaine Weidmann

Derek Stewart


Objectives - To provide a narrative overview of the literature on discharge information communication and medicines discharge prescribing error rate in the UK and other similar healthcare systems. Methods - A narrative review of the peer reviewed literature (2000-2014) on communication of discharge information from hospitals to general practitioners. Databases included were MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, and International Pharmacy Abstracts database. Results - The search yielded 673 results with 15 papers satisfying all inclusion criteria. Direct comparison of studies was not feasible due to differences in study populations and outcome measures. No studies reported post Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicine Administration (HEPMA) implementation. Studies (n=6) investigating handwritten discharge communication systems demonstrated medicine information inaccuracy ranging from 0.81 errors per patient to 17.5% medicines with errors and 67% letters missing medicines change information; with 77% assessed as legible. Studies (n=4) comparing interim electronic solutions with traditional showed variable results: improved, unchanged or decreased medicine information accuracy. Studies researching solely interim electronic solutions (n=5) with one including prescribing error rate assessment at 8.4% of prescribed items and identification of a new electronic system-related error type. Conclusion - Implementation of interim electronic discharge solutions resulted in complete legibility but did not eradicate information and prescribing errors. A paucity of information is available about HEPMA implementation impact on discharge information communication and prescribing error rates. There is urgent need for formal evaluation in this area.


MILLS, P.R., WEIDMANN, A.E. and STEWART, D. 2016. Hospital discharge information communication and prescribing errors: a narrative literature overview. European journal of hospital pharmacy [online], 23(1), pages 3-10. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 12, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2015
Publication Date Jan 31, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 10, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 10, 2016
Journal European journal of hospital pharmacy
Print ISSN 2047-9956
Electronic ISSN 2047-9964
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 3-10
Keywords Medicines regulation; General practice; Family medicine; Discharge prescribing
Public URL


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