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South Nassau Awarded State Funding for Innovative Patient Safety Program

South Nassau Communities Hospital has been awarded a grant of $66,523 from the New York State Department of Health in support of an initiative designed to improve patient safety and prevent medication errors that occur after hospital discharge. Funding for this project is from the New York State Attorney General’s settlement with Cardinal Health, Inc.

“The result of the program will be improved in-home medication management that will reduce post-discharge medication errors that contribute to the re-hospitalization rate,” said Maryann Demeo, assistant vice president for quality and resource management. “Ultimately, this will improve clinical outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.”

Medication errors are among the most common medical errors in healthcare, affecting at least 1.5 million people every year, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine, and generate costs of more than $100 billion annually in hospitalizations, emergent care and unscheduled physician visits.

Inadequate patient medication education is the most frequent cause of medication errors, and is a risk factor for unplanned 30-day hospital readmission. Patients are especially susceptible to medical errors in the days immediately following hospital discharge. Forty-nine percent of hospitalized patients experience at least one medical error following discharge, most commonly involving medication use. An estimated 19% to 23% of patients suffer an adverse drug event (ADE) after discharge.

Research has shown that successful medication education programs lead to a significant increase in patient adherence, while decreasing hospital readmission.

While South Nassau provides patients with medication education during their hospital stay, this initiative focuses on improving medication adherence following discharge. Its goals are to:

  • improve patients’ and caregivers’ knowledge and understanding of the safe use of prescribed medications through patient-centered education
  • improve in-home medication monitoring and compliance through home care services for patients meeting specified criteria
  • prevent adverse events and hospital re-admission due to problems arising from medication usage in the home
Key components of the initiative include creating a library of culturally and linguistically appropriate patient medication education materials, providing patient-centered medication education for patients and their caregivers, and providing in-home medication education and monitoring via home care services for patients identified as “in need of additional support for safe medication use following hospital discharge.”

Additionally, hospital clinical staff will receive training regarding new protocols for patient medication education, and selected supervisory and field staff of South Nassau Home Care will receive training in geriatric medication management to improve clinical outcomes for older homecare patients. Home Care will also pilot the use of remote medication monitoring devices for high-risk homecare patients.

The initiative, which will be conducted over a 15-month period, was launched in May 2009. The Department of Health’s aim in awarding this funding was to stimulate improvements in medication safety that will benefit patients. It is expected that South Nassau’s program will serve as a model to be replicated in other hospitals and healthcare settings throughout New York State.

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