What WVU researchers are doing to decrease prescription errors

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Medication is crucial to the recovery of so many people. Yet, as we’ve discussed here recently, prescription medication errors are a serious threat to patient safety. It’s been estimated that medication errors harm at least 1.5 million people every year. Too often, they send recently discharged patients back to the hospital.

As those in the medical and pharmaceutical fields seek solutions to this growing problem, West Virginia University (WVU) is developing a tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decrease at least one cause of these errors.

The problem with post-discharge medication lists

Before hospital patients are discharged, medical providers develop and give them a list of drugs that they need to continue taking. Since medications (or at least dosages) often change during a patient’s hospital stay, it can be challenging to determine the right meds from all of the patient’s electronic records that were generated during their stay.

A WVU pharmaceutical professor who’s leading the project also notes, “The patient cannot go home with the same amounts of medications they were given in the hospital. There should be an adjustment.” He says this process of determining a patient’s post-discharge meds through this medication reconciliation process “is where 85 percent of the errors happen.”

What does the AI tool do?

It reviews all of the patient’s electronic records and creates an alert system. This system notifies those responsible for the list if there’s anything that could increase the chances that a patient will have to be readmitted. The project’s leader says, “That will make the process more accurate and much faster and improve medication safety.”

The tool will still need to be tested in a real-world setting, and money will be required to produce it, so it’s some way off from being broadly implemented. However, the development of this tool shows just how much of a problem there is with post-discharge medication directions and why it’s crucial for actual pharmacists and doctors to review them for accuracy before providing them to patients.

If the information is inaccurate and leads to patient harm, it may be possible to hold the hospital liable. If you or a loved one is facing this situation, it’s wise to learn more about your rights and options for justice and compensation.