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Dispensing Medications at Pediatric Emergency Department Discharge

In a technical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, an expert panel provides recommendations for providing medications to pediatric patients at the point of discharge from emergency departments (Eds). “Dispensing important and necessary medications from the ED outpatient pharmacy in selected instances, if logistically, legally, and financially possible, allows medication to be provided more conveniently, reliably, and in a manner more proximate to the encounter,” the panel writes. “Although most health care services can be provided in the medical home, children will be referred or require visits to the [ED] for a variety of conditions ranging from nonurgent to emergent. Continuation of medical care after discharge from an ED is dependent on parents’ or caregivers’ understanding of follow-up instructions and adherence to medication administration recommendations. Barriers to obtaining medications after ED visits include lack of access because of pharmacy hours, affordability, and lack of understanding the importance of medication as part of treatment. ED visits often occur at times when community-based pharmacies are closed. Caregivers are typically concerned with getting their ill or injured child directly home once discharged from the ED. Approximately one-third of patients fail to obtain priority medications from a pharmacy after discharge from an ED. The option of judiciously dispensing medications at ED discharge from the outpatient pharmacy within the health care facility is a major convenience that helps to overcome this obstacle, improving the likelihood of medication adherence. Emergency care encounters should routinely be followed by visits to the primary care provider medical home to ensure complete and comprehensive care.”

Source: Pediatrics