A Multidisciplinary Approach to Transition Care: A Patient Safety Innovation Study

2007 James A Vohs Award for Quality First-Place Selection

Jeryl McGaw, MS, RN, ND; Douglas A Conner, PhD; Thomas M Delate, PhD, MS; Elizabeth A Chester, PharmD; Carol Ann Barnes, MS, PT, GCS

Fall 2007 - Volume 11 Number 4



Introduction: Patients with complex medical care needs often embark on multiple care transitions over an extended period of time. As these patients or their caregivers often become the chief source of communication for complex medical situations, each transition can create an opportunity for health care errors. Combining the efforts of the established departments of Chronic Care Coordination (CCC), Clinical Pharmacy Call Center (CPCC), and Continuing Care, Kaiser Permanente Colorado created programs to further safe care transitions.

Methods: Two key goals for safe care transitions were established: 1) reductions in medication errors and 2) increased follow-up with care plans. To achieve these goals, communication plans targeted at medication reconciliation, patient education, and coordination of outpatient recommendations were established. Expected outcomes included reductions in medication errors, decreased Emergency Department and hospital admissions, decreased readmissions, and increased outpatient follow-up and medication compliance.

Results: A review of medication-reconciliation records for intervention patients indicated that >90% of all discharge summaries contained at least one potential drug-related problem including duplicative drugs, omitted therapy, and medication contraindications. After skilled nursing facility discharge, patients who were transitioned by CPCC clinical pharmacists were: 1) 78% less likely to die; 2) 29% less likely to need an Emergency Department visit; and 3) 17% more likely to follow up with primary physicians and clinicians than were patients in the usual care group. Health care cost savings for patients seen by the CCC program demonstrated, conservatively, an annualized per patient savings of $5276. For 763 patients enrolled in 2003, this amounts to an estimated, annualized savings of $4,025,588.

Conclusions: Patients are becoming more informed and involved in their care, but they require ongoing education and coaching to become effective advocates for themselves. Identification of unintended medication discrepancies and potential drug-related problems and increased follow-up during care transitions can improve patient safety and quality of care while saving health care resources.


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