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Care home drug error fears

6th October 2009

Research by the University of London has found that many elderly people are being put at risk because of flaws in how drugs are given out at care homes.

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The report, which appeared in the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care, found that seven in 10 residents had been the victims of mistakes with medication.

The researchers carried out morning inspections of 55 care homes and collected information about 256 residents.

The team recorded 178 mistakes and found that some residents suffered from "more than one" error.

The most prevalent errors were caused by incorrect doses, failure to monitor residents after medication had been given and giving drugs at the incorrect time.

Most care home staff are not given training in how to administer medication and are reliant on doctors and pharmacists to sign repeat prescriptions.

The researchers said that "increasingly complex" courses of drugs made it difficult for staff not to make mistakes.

Lead researcher Professor Nick Barber said: "It is a cause for concern. Residents are usually taking a cocktail of medicines and are more susceptible to drug side-effects as a consequences of ageing."

"I think care homes need more help. Pharmacists and GPs should be taking more responsibility and visiting care homes more than they do." 

 

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Comments

Norman Niven

Monday 19th October 2009 @ 13:56

This isn’t the first time research has shed a negative light on the care industry. It happened in the 90’s and proved to be a catalyst for innovation and improvement. It spurred pharmacists, pharma companies and care homes to effect rapid change and transformed the way we manage medication. History shows the UK healthcare industry is more than fit for the challenge. And there’s no doubt, that in the age of micro chips and mobile technology, we have the tools to make it happen.

Norman Niven, CEO, Protomed


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