Fifty-six elderly patients (age range 65–98 years) discharged from a geriatric unit were visited at home on or after the 5th post-discharge day (median day 8) and their medication assessed.
By the day of the visit, 15 of the 56 had not had a new prescription issued (27%) and 27 patients (48%) had old prescribed medication at home. Forty-one new scripts, issued by general practitioners, should have contained 128 medications if the general practitioners wished to continue unchanged the medication given on hospital discharge. Fourteen drugs (11%) had been added and 17 drugs (13%) omitted. The number of prescriptions issued unchanged was 26/41 (63%). Inaccurately labelled containers and/or changed drug names were found in 28%. Contrary to hospital advice, 47% of medications were issued in childproof containers.
Poor communication between hospital and general practitioners is only part of the problem. Methods to expedite the delivery of new presciptions should be developed.