Medication reconciliation by a pharmacy technician in a mental health assessment unit

Kay Brownlie, Carl Schneider, Roger Culliford, Chris Fox, Alexis Boukouvalas, Cathy Willan, Ian D. Maidment

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Background Medication discrepancies are common when patients cross organisational boundaries. However, little is known about the frequency of discrepancies within mental health and the efficacy of interventions to reduce discrepancies. Objective To evaluate the impact of a pharmacy-led reconciliation service on medication discrepancies on admissions to a secondary care mental health trust. Setting In-patient mental health services. Methods Prospective evaluation of pharmacy technician led medication reconciliation for admissions to a UK Mental Health NHS Trust. From March to June 2012 information on any unintentional discrepancies (dose, frequency and name of medication); patient demographics; and type and cause of the discrepancy was collected. The potential for harm was assessed based on two scenarios; the discrepancy was continued into primary care, and the discrepancy was corrected during admission. Logistic regression identified factors associated with discrepancies. Main outcome measure Mean number of discrepancies per admission corrected by the pharmacy technician. Results Unintentional medication discrepancies occurred in 212 of 377 admissions (56.2 %). Discrepancies involving 569 medicines (mean 1.5 medicines per admission) were corrected. The most common discrepancy was omission (n = 464). Severity was assessed for 114 discrepancies. If the discrepancy was corrected within 16 days the potential harm was minor in 71 (62.3 %) cases and moderate in 43 (37.7 %) cases whereas if the discrepancy was not corrected the potential harm was minor in 27 (23.7 %) cases and moderate in 87 (76.3 %) cases. Discrepancies were associated with both age and number of medications; the stronger association was age. Conclusions Medication discrepancies are common within mental health services with potentially significant consequences for patients. Trained pharmacy technicians are able to reduce the frequency of discrepancies, improving safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-309
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number2
Early online date1 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Continuity of care
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Medication safety
  • Mental health
  • United Kingdom

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