Last updated 29/01/2014

There are often changes to a patient's medicine when their care is handed over to other health professionals, such as during admission to, transfer or discharge from hospital. Some of these medicine changes are unintentional due to poor information and some are intentional but not clearly documented.  Both types of change can result in medication errors and/or patient harm.

Nurse taking notesWe know:

  • between 10 to 67 percent of medication histories have at least one error [1]
  • up to one-third of these errors have the potential to cause patient harm [2]
  • more than 50 percent of medication errors occur at transitions of care [3][4]
  • patients with one or more medicines missing from their discharge information are 2.3 times more likely to be readmitted to hospital than those with correct information on discharge. [5]

To reduce medication errors, the Commission’s Medication Safety Programme is helping health care organisations implement medicine reconciliation, which reduces medication errors or medication-related harm.

Medicine reconciliation is about obtaining the most accurate list of patient medicines, allergies and adverse drug reactions and comparing this with the prescribed medicines and documented allergies and adverse drug reactions.  Any discrepancies are then documented and reconciled.

Medication reconciliation is everybody’s business. Strong collaboration, communication and teamwork between medical, nursing, ambulance and pharmacy staff involved in the patient’s care and the patient, their carer or family members is vital for its success.

Click here to view medication reconciliation publications and resources.