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Monday 24th June 2019

Care home residents exposed to medication errors

13th January 2012

Research has suggested that more than half of all residents in care homes in England are vulnerable to mistakes made in administering their medication.


A team from the University of West England (UWE) Bristol and the University of Warwick focused on 345 elderly people in 13 residential and nursing care homes around England, recording all the drugs they took over three months.

They found that 90% were exposed to at least one mistake and that 52% were exposed to more serious problems such as untrained staff trying to give them another patient’s medicine.

The study, published online in the journal BMC Geriatrics, analysed 188,249 attempts to administer drugs by staff. Each resident received nine different drugs on average and were given medication 206 times a month.

There were found to be 6.6 potential errors for each resident, with the most common mistake coming through attempts to administer medicine at the wrong time.

Professor Ala Szczepura of Warwick University said: “Older people in long-term residential care are clearly at increased risk of medication errors.”

There are cases of people having to be taken to hospital because of such mistakes, adding an increase cost burden to the NHS.

One solution, according to experts, is to use technology where a barcode system can alert staff to potential errors.

Tariq Muhammad, Managing Director of Pharmacy Plus who developed the system, said it would make the distribution of medication in care homes safer and, with one in 15 hospital admissions due to medication errors, save the NHS £1 billion per year.


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