Patients lack knowledge about the medications they take during hospital stays, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine ([Epub ahead of print]).

Researchers from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine conducted a study to assess patient awareness of medications prescribed during hospitalization and surveyed attitudes towards lack of patient knowledge regarding hospital medications.

The study revealed that 44% of patients believed they were receiving a medication they were not and 96% were unable to recall the name of at least one medication prescribed to them during their hospital stay. Patients < 65 years old were unable to name 60% of the medication that they could take as needed, compared with patients > 65 years old who were unable to name 88% of these medications.

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“Overall, patients in the study were able to name fewer than half of their hospital medications,” said lead researcher Ethan Cumbler, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. “Our findings are particularly striking in that we found significant deficits in patient understanding of their hospital medications even among patients who believed they knew, or desired to know, what is being prescribed to them in the hospital.”

Of the scheduled medications commonly omitted by patient recall, antibiotics ranked as the most commonly omitted, followed by cardiovascular medications (16%), and antithrombotics (15%).  Among medications that patients could take as needed, the most commonly omitted by patient recall were analgesics (33%) and gastrointestinal medications (29%).

“Our study suggests that adult medicine inpatients believe learning about their hospital medications would increase their satisfaction and has potential to promote medication safety,” stated Dr Cumbler. “I believe the findings of this research raise very interesting questions about the role and responsibilities of patients in the hospital with respect to their medication safety.”