Background Most patients who attend clinics in hospital present their prescription to the outpatient pharmacy, wait while it is dispensed and take their medicines home. However, in some instances, prescriptions (which may have been left by hospital staff on behalf of patients) are abandoned in the pharmacy department and the patients’ medicines remain uncollected. In such cases, the medicines are usually returned to stock without further review. There is little published information available on the consequences of abandonment of prescriptions and whether it impedes medicines optimisation.
Purpose A study was undertaken to investigate the incidence and causes of prescription abandonment in a hospital outpatient pharmacy and to ascertain whether this leads to any significant adverse consequences.
Material and methods An audit was undertaken in December 2014 to quantify the number of prescriptions abandoned over an 8 week period. Following that, telephone interviews were conducted to establish why this had occurred and how the patients managed without their prescribed medicines.
Results 1% (90) of all prescriptions (8393) dispensed in the outpatient pharmacy were abandoned over the study period.
45% of patients who had abandoned their prescription had medicines owing to them by the outpatient pharmacy.
43% were abandoned due to poor communication by pharmacy and hospital staff.
Reasons for abandonment
35% of patients were not aware that their prescription had been left in the outpatient pharmacy.
20% of patients felt it was inconvenient to wait or return.
17% of patients already had the medicines at home.
10% of patients were too unwell to collect their medicines.
Consequences of abandonment
36% of patients were affected by some form of interruption to their treatment plan.
50% of patients made a further appointment with a doctor to get a duplicate prescription.
8% of patients had no access to their medicines despite requiring them.
7% of patients reported a significant adverse clinical outcome due to abandonment.
Conclusion Abandonment of prescriptions leads to significant adverse consequences and has a deleterious effect on medicines optimisation. In order to reduce adverse clinical outcomes, lower the costs associated with duplication of work and improve medicines optimisation, it is important to minimise the causative factors (ie, improve communication by staff and optimise processes within the outpatient pharmacy itself).
No conflict of interest.