Discontinued Medicines May Still Get Dispensed

Doctors sometimes fail to inform a pharmacist that a patient has been taken off a medication, and the pharmacist continues to refill the patient ' s prescription for the drug, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The error is a newly identified and important patient safety issue, according to senior author Dr. Thomas Sequist, a physician at Brigham and Women ' s Hospital and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston . Looking at 1,218 instances in 2009 where patients ' medications were discontinued by Harvard Vanguard doctors, researchers found 1.5% of all discontinued medications were refilled by the pharmacy and that 12% of those refilled medications caused some degree of potential harm to the patients. Author’s recommendation: electronic health records should be used to facilitate better communication between providers and pharmacies and improve medication safety.