Dr Elisabeth Wearne: Going to hospital – Emergencies

Listen to patients and health professionals speak about their experience with taking multiple medicines.

Dr Elisabeth Wearne
Main occupation: General practitioner
Years in clinical practice: 7
Qualifications: MBBS, FRACGP

Dr Elisabeth Wearne, GP, describes what patients can expect to happen regarding their medicines if they go to hospital in an emergency and what to expect if changes are made to their medicines while they are in hospital. 

Dr Wearne:

Most situations where patients go to hospital as an emergency, they'd be encouraged to take their medicines with them or have a family member bring their medications in with them. Or, if they are going to the hospital from the GP's surgery, usually the GP would send some form of communication with them to the hospital that would include a current, up-to-date list of the medications or up-to-date on the doctor's system. It might not be up-to-date with what's actually going on. So patients could expect that, in hospital, any changes that would be made to their regimen would be explained to them, that those changes would be then relayed back to the GP, once that patient was sent home. 

It doesn't happen enough, but that should be the expectation and that patients should know what's happening with their regular medications, while they're in hospital and when they go home.


So, if a patient has their usual medicines changed in hospital, they should stay with what the hospital recommended when they are discharged and go home?

Dr Wearne:

Yes, I think so, but they'd want to have a good understanding of why and they'd want to make sure that the hospital actually lets the GP know too, so that change can be continued, but certainly when they leave hospital … if their medication’s changed, it will be for a reason and often it's that someone's clinical situation has changed in hospital. I’m just trying to think of an example. 

There's a lady I know who has COPD and heart failure and she regularly gets infections and needs to be in hospital. And they often have to change the doses of some of her heart medication while she's in hospital. But she frequently comes home, not understanding why or what the change is and the change often isn’t communicated with me, so I can't explain it to her either. We’re both in the dark! There have been times where that's been a problem and that's actually caused problems with her blood pressure and her angina. So, communication is really important.

To print this page use Control+P on a PC, or Command+P on a Mac.

The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia.