Patient compliance with medication post-hospitalization is a vital concern to all hospital personnel because it can dictate the final outcome of treatment. There have been a variety of studies on this subject which all indicate a growing gap between patient compliance and original discharge orders.
One study among the elderly (age 65+) concluded that “64% used at least one medication that was not ordered by the physician at discharge, and 73% failed to use at least one medication according to the way it was ordered. Of all drugs ordered at discharge, 32% were not taken at all”. From these statistics it is clear that medication compliance is one aspect of healthcare that currently needs improvement.
Another more recent study suggested that: “patients do not feel adequately prepared to participate in their post-hospital care. The brief period immediately before discharge may not be an ideal time to convey new and complex information to older patients, as pain, anxiety, sleep deprivation, or delirium may limit receptivity or new learning”. This study concludes that medication compliance can be improved by system quality improvement activities such as receiving more feedback from patients after discharge or having nursing care outside the hospital. Similarly, a recent New York Times article citing Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University, suggested a universal medication schedule. Wolf called it a “ridiculously simple [and] incredibly basic idea” which could solve medication compliance problems for good.
Improving medication compliance after discharge should be a larger focus for healthcare professionals because it directly affects patient safety, quality of care and cost.
 Beers MH, Sliwkowski J, Brooks J. “Compliance with medication orders among the elderly after hospital discharge”. Hosp Formul. 1992 Jul;27(7):720-4
 Eric A. Coleman, MD, MPH; Jodi D. Smith, ND; Devbani Raha, MS; Sung-joon Min, PhD. “Posthospital Medication Discrepancies”. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:1842-1847
 Paula Span. Author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.” NYT. “A Dose of Confusion”. http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/a-dose-of-confusion/#more-9327
Image from: http://www.senior.com/health/prescription-drugs/medication-safety-for-seniors/