A study published in Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 400,000 elderly patients who were all facing the same situation. These patients were in the hospital and the researchers looked at whether the elderly patients would continue taking their medications after leaving the hospital.
Some of the elderly patients for example, were on aspirin, but about 20% of them left the hospital without their aspirin, and it now seems clear that certain things, often time lifesaving medicine, may get lost in the process of discharging a hospitalized patient.
One of the things our health system has and will continue to work on is better outcomes during these transitions of care. It’s critically (pun intended) important, as a patient, to not only have conversations with your providers during your hospital stay, but also schedule an early follow-up with your doctor or pharmacist right after discharge to immediately review what medicines you need to, should be, and actually are taking.
The study also found that the elderly patients who didn’t continue taking their medication had a slightly higher risk of going back to the emergency room following their hospital stay. This proves to us there are real dangers when it comes to making sure people are careful and medications are taken properly both in and out of the hospital. It is crucial that we improve systems on communication between patients and their doctors throughout the process of hospitalization, including at and after discharge.