What health issue did the study examine?
Families who leave a hospital with prescriptions for asthma medicine sometimes do not fill them. That can cause return trips to the emergency room for treatment.
What do we know about this issue so far?
Some families have trouble filling prescriptions after a hospital visit because of a lack of transportation, time or health insurance. Some hospitals have given patients medicine before they leave in an effort to reduce the number of return visits and improve patients' health.
What question did researchers try to answer?
Researchers at Boston Medical Center sought to reduce return hospital visits for asthma by delivering medicine straight to patients before they left for home.
Who did the study include?
Children with asthma hospitalized at Boston Medical Center.
What methods did the researchers use?
Doctors and pharmacists created a program called "Meds in Hand." They delivered medicine directly to patients' rooms on the day the children were discharged. Pharmacists demonstrated proper use of the medicine.
What did the researchers find?
Researchers were able to put medicine in the hands of 75% of patients leaving the hospital through this program. Delivering medicine to the families significantly reduced the chances of revisiting the hospital during the 30 days after discharge. These families were also more likely to refill their prescriptions.
Are there any limits to the study?
The study was small. Researchers expect that this could work for other diseases as well, but more studies are needed.
What does this study mean for me?
Tell the hospital staff if you think you will have trouble filling prescriptions after leaving the hospital. Your chances of returning to the hospital may rise if you cannot get and take your asthma medication. This study was limited to one hospital, but points out the importance of filling your prescriptions after discharge.
Hatoun, J., Bair-Merritt, M., Cabral, H., and Moses, J. (2016). Increasing medication possession at discharge for patients with asthma: The meds-in-hand project. Pediatrics.
Medical Review March 2016.