BACKGROUND: Patient safety 'best practices' that call for patient participation to prevent adverse drug events have not been rigorously evaluated.
OBJECTIVE: To consider lessons learned from a patient partnership intervention to prevent adverse drug events among medical in-patients.
DESIGN: Prospective randomized, controlled pilot trial.
SETTING: Boston teaching hospital. Patients. Two hundred and nine adult in-patients on a general medicine unit.
INTERVENTION: Intervention patients (n = 107) received drug safety information and their medication list; controls (n = 102) received drug safety information only. Measurements. Adverse drug events and close-call drug errors were identified using chart review and incident reports from nurses, pharmacists, and physicians. Patients and clinicians were surveyed about the intervention.
RESULTS: In 1053 patient-days at risk, 11 patients experienced 12 adverse drug events and 16 patients experienced 18 close calls. There was a non-significant difference between intervention patients and controls in survey responses and in the adverse drug event rate (8.4% versus 2.9%, P = 0.12) and close-call rate (7.5% versus 9.8%, P = 0.57). Eleven percent of patients were aware of drug-related mistakes during the hospitalization. Among nurse respondents, 29% indicated that at least one medication error was prevented when a patient or family member identified a problem.
CONCLUSION: Partnering with in-patients to prevent adverse drug events is a promising strategy but requires further study to document its efficacy.