Emergency Department Medication History Taking: Current Inefficiency and Potential for a Self-Administered Form



      Emergency Departments (EDs) struggle with obtaining accurate medication information from patients.


      Our aim was to estimate the proportion of urban ED patients who are able to complete a self-administered medication form and record patient observations of the medication information process.


      In this cross-sectional study, we consecutively sampled ED patients during various shifts between 8 am and 10 pm. We created a one-page medication questionnaire that included a list of 49 common medications, categorized by general indications. We asked patients to circle any medications they took and write the names of those not on the form in a dedicated area on the bottom of the page. After their visit, we asked patients to recall which providers had asked them about their medications.


      Research staff approached 354 patients; median age was 45 years (interquartile range 29–53 years). Two hundred and forty-nine (70%) completed a form, 61 (17%) were too ill, 19 (5%) could not read it, and 25 (7%) refused to participate. Excluding refusals, 249 of 329 (76%; 95% confidence interval 70–80%) were able to complete the form. Of 209 patients recalling their visit, 180 (86%) indicated that multiple providers took a history, including 103 in which every provider did so, and 9 (4%) indicated that no provider took a medication history.


      The process of ED medication information transfer often involves redundant efforts by the health care team. More than 70% of patients presenting for Emergency care were able to complete a self-administered medication information form.


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