Exploring medicines reconciliation in the emergency assessment unit: Staff perceptions and actual waiting times

Charlie Ellison, Katie Hackett*, Dennis Lendrem, Clare Abley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Downloads (Pure)


Background Medicines reconciliation is the process of creating and maintaining the most accurate list possible of all medicines a patient is taking. If medicines reconciliation cannot be completed in a timely manner in hospital emergency assessment units (EAUs), delays in treatment can occur, potentially leading to deterioration of long-term and acute conditions, patient distress and complaints. Aim To obtain the perspectives of staff working on an EAU regarding the time patients wait for their medicines to be prescribed, including their awareness of practice and protocols. To determine the time from admission to the EAU until medicines reconciliation, and to identify if there was any time difference in medicines reconciliation according to the day of admission. Method This was a service evaluation in which staff working in one EAU in a teaching hospital in the north east of England were asked to complete a survey in December 2017. The staff survey aimed to ascertain: whether staff were aware of any guidance relating to medicines reconciliation times; how long they thought the average waiting time was for medicines reconciliation; and if they thought there were implications for patients or staff as a result of time spent waiting for medicines reconciliation. In addition, an audit was performed analysing medicines reconciliation times for all patients admitted to the EAU during the month of December 2017. Results A total of 30 staff members responded to the survey. While 40% (n=12) of respondents believed that the EAU had an efficient system in place for timely medicines reconciliation, 90% (n=27) believed the unit could still improve. Almost half the respondents (47%, n=14) perceived a delay in medicines reconciliation could result in exacerbation of patients' physical conditions. The clinical audit identified considerable variation in medicines reconciliation times, ranging from seven minutes to almost 24 hours. However, most medicines (82%) were reconciled within six hours. Conclusion This service evaluation found that the median time after arrival in the EAU until completion of medicines reconciliation was two hours 48 minutes. However, almost one fifth of patients had to wait for more than six hours, and in one instance almost 24 hours. One potential solution could be increasing the involvement of hospital pharmacists or pharmacy technicians in medicines reconciliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency Nurse
Issue number5
Early online date12 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring medicines reconciliation in the emergency assessment unit: Staff perceptions and actual waiting times'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this