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Published on 6 September 2010

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Medication errors “can be avoided”

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New research has claimed that putting pharmacists in charge of distributing medicine in old people’s homes could avoid potential errors.

A four-month trial in which a pharmacist took control of medicine management in a care home saw a 91% fall in mistakes.

A range of staff, including doctors, nurses and care home workers can look after medicine and oversee their distribution in care homes, which has raised concerns that elderly patients are more vulnerable to errors compared with those who are treated in other settings such as hospitals.

The study, carried out at a 69-bed care home, found that errors made in medicine distribution were cut down by improving communication and training between staff.

Pharmacy records were placed under continuous review and weekly visits were carried out at the care home.

The results showed putting a pharmacist in charge led to far fewer errors in areas such as medication type, dosage and records not being kept up-to-date.

The total number of errors in these areas fell from 138 to 12.

The study comes after research last November showed people living in care homes are being put at risk because of sub-standard systems for handing out medicine.

The University of London blamed inadequate information, over-worked staff, poor teamwork and often complex courses of medication.

The latest study was presented by postgraduate researcher Majghan Saeed at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual conference in London.

Copyright Press Association 2010

Royal Pharmaceutical Society



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