July 2, 2012 -- After leaving the hospital, many heart patients experience medication errors, even if they have extra help from pharmacists, according to new research.
Although previous studies have found that about 20% of patients have some problem with their prescription medicine after discharge, the new study found errors more widespread.
"We found that approximately 50% of patients had either a potentially avoidable adverse drug event or some other problem with their medicine that had the potential to cause harm if left uncorrected," says researcher Sunil Kripalani, MD, associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
Most errors were mild, he tells WebMD. Some were life-threatening, but no deaths were linked to the medication errors in the study.
The errors occurred even in patients who got extra counseling from a pharmacist, Kripalani says. However, certain people, such as those who had difficulty understanding health information, did tend to benefit from having that extra help, he says.
The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Medication errors harm at least 1.5 million people a year in the U.S., according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.