Medication reconciliation in home care

A vital step in ensuring patient safety

Medication reconciliation is a best-practice, standardized process that results in a complete, accurate and current list of a patient’s medications. While medication reconciliation is important at all stages of care, it’s particularly important when patients transition from one level of care to another – from hospital to home, for example.

“This is a critical stage,” said Kathy Foss, RN, director of Quality and Patient Safety for Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, “since so many things can be changing for patients in a very short period of time. For example, the medications a patient was given in the hospital may be different, or may be a different dosage, than those the patient had been taking at home. Even nuances in meds, such as brand-name versus generic, can make a difference.”

At each visit, home health staff not only verify the medications list with the physician but also review medications with the patient and family, including how the patient is taking a medication. “Teaching patients or family members to manage medications is critical to their success in remaining healthy and at home,” said Sylena Keeping, RN, vice president of operations.

During a home visit, staff also assess the effectiveness of medications prescribed, occurrence of side effects and adherence to medication regimen, and consult with the patient’s physician as needed.

The Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice adheres to guidelines set forth in the national Home Health Quality Improvement campaign and its best practice intervention package for medication management.“

Medication errors are the number one cause of rehospitalization for patients recently discharged,” said Keeping. “The purpose of medication reconciliation is preventing errors during the transition from one care setting to another and ensuring safe medication management among all care settings. This requires timely and accurate communication and collaboration among all providers of care.”


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