With the addition of social determinants of health data collection to the MDS v1.18.11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has highlighted the importance of these critical factors in nursing home residents. 

In the complex health care landscape, transitions between care settings can be fraught with risks, particularly for vulnerable populations such as individuals residing in skilled nursing facilities. Medication management is a critical aspect that demands meticulous attention among the myriad challenges faced during transitions. Medication reconciliation, primarily upon discharge from nursing homes, emerges as a potent tool in averting rehospitalization and promoting optimal patient outcomes.

The Conundrum of Medication Management

For individuals transitioning from nursing homes to home or other care facilities, ensuring seamless continuity of medication regimens is pivotal. However, this process is often marred by discrepancies, errors, and misunderstandings, leading to adverse drug events (ADEs) and subsequent hospital readmissions. The multifaceted nature of medication management, compounded by factors such as polypharmacy, cognitive impairments, and communication gaps, exacerbates the risk landscape.

The Role of Medication Reconciliation

Medication reconciliation, the comprehensive review and validation of a patient's medication regimen, represents a linchpin in mitigating the pitfalls associated with care transitions. Upon discharge from nursing homes, diligent reconciliation efforts serve several crucial purposes:

  • Identification of Discrepancies: Reconciliation endeavors unearth disparities between the medications prescribed during the nursing home stay and those intended for post-discharge use. Discrepancies may arise due to various reasons, including changes in prescribing physicians, differing formularies between care settings, and inadequate communication channels.
  • Resolution of Medication Discrepancies: Once identified, discrepancies are meticulously addressed through collaboration among health care providers, pharmacists, and patients or their caregivers. Resolving these discrepancies involves verifying the accuracy of medication lists, rectifying dosage discrepancies, and addressing potential drug interactions or duplications.
  • Patient Education and Empowerment: Medication reconciliation serves as an opportune moment for patient education and empowerment. Clear communication regarding medication regimens, including dosage instructions, potential side effects, and the importance of adherence, equips patients and caregivers with the knowledge and confidence to manage medications effectively post-discharge.

Preventing Rehospitalization Through Medication Reconciliation

The impact of robust medication reconciliation practices on reducing rehospitalization rates among nursing home residents cannot be overstated. By addressing medication discrepancies and enhancing medication management processes, reconciliation initiatives contribute to:

  • Reduced Adverse Drug Events (ADEs): A primary driver of hospital readmissions, ADEs precipitate considerable morbidity and health care utilization among nursing home residents. Timely identification and rectification of discrepancies through medication reconciliation serve as a potent deterrent against ADEs, safeguarding patients from harm.
  • Enhanced Medication Adherence: Clear, accurate medication lists and patient education foster adherence to prescribed regimens, thereby diminishing the likelihood of medication errors and complications post-discharge. Improved adherence translates into better health outcomes and a reduced propensity for rehospitalization.
  • Optimized Care Coordination: Medication reconciliation fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and seamless care coordination, ensuring that patients' medication needs are addressed comprehensively across care settings. This interdisciplinary approach facilitates smoother transitions and diminishes the likelihood of medication-related issues slipping through the cracks.

Veronica CeaserTo enhance patient outcomes and mitigate the burden of rehospitalization among nursing home residents, prioritizing medication reconciliation is imperative. By serving as a linchpin in the continuum of care, robust reconciliation efforts empower patients, optimize medication management, and foster interdisciplinary collaboration. As health care stakeholders rally around the imperative of seamless transitions, embracing medication reconciliation emerges as a non-negotiable imperative in safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable populations.

Veronica Ceaser is a dedicated nurse with over 20 years in the long-term care industry, including roles such as director of nursing Services, MDS, licensed nursing home administrator, and consultant. She is a past president of the Ohio Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators. Ceaser is board certified in geriatrics and case management and is a board-certified nurse executive. She currently serves as the Principal Consultant for Gem Healthcare Consulting LLC and can be reached by email at veronica@gemhealthcareconsult.com.​