Open Access Open Badges Research article

Implementing medication reconciliation from the planner’s perspective: a qualitative study

Sadie H Sanchez1, Sanjum S Sethi2, Susan L Santos34 and Kenneth Boockvar156*

Author Affiliations

1 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1057, New York, NY 10029, USA

2 Boston University School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, 88 E Newton St, C-818, Boston, MA 02118, USA

3 VA New Jersey Health Care System, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center East Orange, 385 Tremont Ave, Mailstop 129, East Orange, NJ 07018, USA

4 Rutgers University School of Public Health Piscataway, Piscataway, NJ, USA

5 Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center, James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 130 West Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10468, USA

6 Jewish Home Lifecare Research Institute on Aging, New York, NY, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:290  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-290

Published: 4 July 2014



Medication reconciliation can reduce adverse events associated with prescribing errors at transitions between sites of care. Though a U.S. Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal since 2006, at present organizations continue to have difficulty implementing it. The objective of this study was to examine medication reconciliation implementation from the perspective of individuals involved in the planning process in order to identify recurrent themes, including facilitators and barriers, that might inform other organizations’ planning and implementation efforts.


We performed semi-structured interviews with individuals who had a role in planning medication reconciliation implementation at a large urban academic medical center in the U.S. and its affiliated Veterans Affairs hospital. We queried respondents’ perceptions of the implementation process and their experience with facilitators and barriers. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The themes that emerged were subsequently categorized using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR).


There were 13 respondents, each with one or more organizational roles in quality improvement, information technology, medication safety, and education. Respondents described a resource- and time- intensive medication reconciliation planning process. The planning teams’ membership and functioning were recognized as important factors to a successful planning process. Implementation was facilitated by planners’ understanding of the principles of performance improvement, in particular, fitting the new process into the workflow of multiple disciplines. Nevertheless, a need for significant professional role changes was recognized. Staff training was recognized to be an important part of roll-out, but training had several limitations. Planners monitored compliance to help sustain the process, but acknowledged that this did not ensure that medication reconciliation actually achieved its primary goal of reducing errors. Study findings fit multiple constructs in the CFIR model.


Study findings suggest that to improve the likelihood of a successful implementation of medication reconciliation, planners should, among other considerations, involve a multidisciplinary planning team, recognize the significant professional role changes that may be needed, and consider devoting resources not just to compliance monitoring but also to monitoring of the process’ impact on prescribing.

Medication reconciliation; Adverse drug event; Patient safety; Implementation; National patient safety goals