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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Inhaler use leads to drug dose mistakes

9th February 2011

New research has suggested that older people using inhalers run a greater risk of taking the wrong dose of medicine.


The team from Leeds University found that mistakes were most likely with inhalers rather than tablets, capsules or liquid medicines.

For the study, the research team looked at 233 residents in 55 care homes in England and monitored doses over two drug rounds.

It emerged that the chance of a mistake was 30 times higher when staff had to administer an inhaler rather than help a resident take some tablets.

Now the Leeds team is calling for better training in the use of inhalers for staff in care homes.

Dr David Alldred of Leeds University School of Healthcare said: “Medical inhalers are relatively complex devices and require a number of steps to be taken correctly in the right sequence. Even the simplest inhaler can be difficult to use correctly and this is particularly the case for older people.”

With about 10% of care home residents having been prescribed an inhaler-based medicine for some sort of respiratory there are fears that conditions are not being treated correctly, meaning breathlessness will not be relieved and leave care home residents at higher risk of developing a chest infection.

The paper is published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety.

Age UK said it was another example of how older people in care homes are having bad experiences with their medication.

The National Care Association said the research would make people think carefully about the training of care staff.


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