An increasing number of transitions due to substitution of care of more complex patients urges insight in and improvement of transitional medication safety. While lack of documentation of prescription changes and/or lack of information exchange between settings likely cause adverse drug events, frequency of occurrence of these causes is not clear. Therefore, we aimed at determining the frequency of in-hospital patients’ prescription changes that are not or incorrectly documented in their primary care provider’s (PCP) medical record.
A medical record review study was performed in a database linking patients’ medical records of hospital and PCP. A random sample (n = 600) was drawn from all 1399 patients who were registered at a participating primary care practice as well as the gastroenterology or cardiology department in 2013 of the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. Outcomes were the number of in-hospital prescription changes that was not or incorrectly documented in the medical record of the PCP, and timeliness of documentation.
Records of 390 patients included one or more primary-secondary care transitions; in total we identified 1511 transitions. During these transitions, 408 in-hospital prescription changes were made, of which 31% was not or incorrectly documented in the medical record of the PCP within the next 3 months. In case changes were documented, the median number of days between hospital visit and documentation was 3 (IQR 0–18).
One third of in-hospital prescription changes was not or incorrectly documented in the PCP’s record, which likely puts patients at risk of adverse drug events after hospital visits. Such flawed reliability of a routine care process is unacceptable and warrants improvement and close monitoring.