How Patient Engagement, Education Can Improve Medication Safety

Providers can better detect prescribing mistakes through strong patient engagement and education, ultimately boosting medication safety, new research from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) shows. The report, which focuses on medication ordering within the electronic health record (EHR), first recommended that clinicians provide patients with after-visit summaries, including detailed medication lists. Offering after-visit summaries can add another layer to the checks providers should run to ensure they have prescribed the right medication to the correct patient.

When patients have the opportunity to review which medications they are taking, they may pick up an error another clinician had missed. ONC also suggests an education strategy that tests patient understanding by asking them to explain, or “teach back,” concepts to their providers. “In the ‘teach back,’ a provider reviews with the patient a summary of the discussions and decisions made during the encounter to ensure understanding,” the researchers explained. “If the patient has been given the wrong medication or administration due to a pick list error, careful review of the after-visit summary by the patient is perhaps the most important step in identifying and rectifying the error.” (Source: Patient EngagementHIT (11/17/16) Heath, Sara)