Medication reviews by clinical pharmacists in older hospitalised patients : Implementation, performance and effects
Abstract: Background Inappropriate use of medications is a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care. Medication reviews by clinical pharmacists improve medication use, but evidence on hard clinical outcomes in older hospitalised patients is scarce and implementation in practice is challenging. The aim of this thesis was to study the implementation, performance and effects of medication reviews by clinical pharmacists in older hospitalised patients.Methods A case study explored the factors involved in the implementation and sustainability of medication reviews by clinical pharmacists in Region Uppsala, Sweden. A pragmatic multicentre cluster-randomised crossover trial (MedBridge) was conducted to study the effects of hospital-based comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) including post-discharge follow-ups on older patients’ healthcare utilisation, compared with only hospital-based reviews and usual care. The primary outcome measure was the incidence of unplanned hospital visits within 12 months. A process evaluation was conducted alongside the trial, for which different methods were applied: semi-structured interviews with patients and healthcare professionals, intervention fidelity assessment and process outcomes assessment. A practical tool to identify medication-related hospital admissions, one of the trial’s secondary outcomes, was developed and validated.Results Multiple factors involved in the implementation and sustainability of medication reviews by clinical pharmacists were identified. Examples of facilitating factors were a national focus on quality of care for the elderly and clinical pharmacy education. In total, 2637 participants (median age 81 years) were included in the MedBridge trial. The primary outcome measure did not differ between the treatment groups. Analysis of the interviews with patients and healthcare professionals resulted in seven and six themes, respectively, that were related to the performance of the trial’s interventions. A recurrent theme was the unclear role and responsibilities of the ward-based pharmacist. The intervention fidelity was high during hospital admission and lower surrounding discharge. In 77% of the intervention patients, at least one medication discrepancy or drug-related problem was solved. The developed tool, AT-HARM10, was deemed valid for use by pharmacy students to identify medication-related admissions in older patients.Conclusions This thesis suggests that, despite a high percentage of patients with medication discrepancies or drug-related problems being solved, hospital-based CMRs with and without post-discharge follow-ups, as conducted in the MedBridge trial, do not decrease the incidence of unplanned hospital visits in older patients. Future research and clinical initiatives may benefit from addressing the factors related to the implementation and performance of medication reviews that were identified in this thesis.
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