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Pharmacist Intervention Can Help Reduce Readmissions


A new study has found that a pharmacist-led intervention featuring three outreach phone calls in the 30-day postdischarge period can help reduce patients' readmissions and ED visits.

Recently published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the report found that 39% of patients who received only one postdischarge call at the end of the 30-day time frame were either readmitted to the hospital or visited the ED within 30 days of discharge. By comparison, 24.8% of patients who received three phone calls, at days 3, 14, and 30 postdischarge, had a readmission or ED visit.

"The unique thing about this is we added three postdischarge phone calls," says senior author Michael Postelnick, RPh, BCPS, senior infectious diseases pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "Most studies look at one or, at most, two. But we thought of the midpoint of the 30-day period postdischarge as a very hazardous time, a time that would benefit from pharmacist contact to make sure that patients were continuing on their plan and not having any problems."

The research showed that the number of outreach calls in the 30-day postdischarge period did not significantly impact the number of adverse drug events or medication errors reported nor did it affect patients’ knowledge about their medications as measured by Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores.

Postelnick says he thinks a larger study may bear evidence that pharmacist-led interventions can impact those areas, as well. Either way, the research suggests that multiple "touch points" are needed to reinforce postdischarge instructions given at a "very chaotic time," he adds.

"All the [patient] education one does upon discharge, there's likely to be little retention of that," Postelnick adds. "As patients settle more into their usual routine, they become more receptive to learning about what they need to do to ensure that they can maintain their health. Even at 72 hours, they're starting to settle, but by the time you hit the 14-day period, you can have a good discussion with them."

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