BMJ Qual Saf doi:10.1136/bmjqs.2010.047845
  • Quality improvement report

Utilising improvement science methods to optimise medication reconciliation

  1. Uma R Kotagal2
  1. 1Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  2. 2James M Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christine White, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA; christine.white{at}
  • Accepted 9 January 2011
  • Published Online First 11 February 2011


Background In 2005, The Joint Commission included medication reconciliation as a National Patient Safety Goal to reduce medication errors related to omissions, duplications and interactions. Hospitals continue to struggle to implement successful programmes that meet these objectives.

Methods The authors used improvement methods and reliability principles to develop and implement a process for medication reconciliation completion at admission at a large, paediatric medical centre. Medication reconciliation was defined as recording a complete and accurate list of each patient's medications within 20 min of admission by the nurse and reconciliation of those medications within 24 h of admission by the physician. Interventions focused on five main areas: leadership and support from senior physicians and nurses to sustain a culture of safety; simplification and standardisation of the electronic medication reconciliation application; clarifying roles and responsibilities; creating a highly reliable and visible system; and sustainability.

Results At baseline, only 62% of patients had their medications reconciled within 24 h of admission. Over a 9-month period, ≥90% medication reconciliation was achieved within 24 h of admission. These results have been sustained for 27 months.

Conclusions Through the use of improvement methods and reliability science, a sustainable process for medical reconciliation completion at admission was successfully achieved at a large, busy academic children's hospital.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Free sample

This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of BMJ Quality & Safety.
View free sample issue >>

Email alerts

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.


Navigate This Article