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Medicine mistakes at care homes

A total of 70% of elderly residents living in care homes are the victims of medicine errors, according to a study.

The prescribing, dispensing and administration errors are caused by a number of factors including poor teamwork, a lack of training and tired, overworked staff making mistakes, the study claims.

Researchers from universities in Leeds, London and Surrey analysed information from 256 residents recruited from 55 care homes across England. Each resident was taking an average of eight different medicines.

Some 178 residents had been the victim of one or more medication mistakes – typically two per person – the study showed.

Of these, 94 residents suffered at the hands of dispensing errors – mistakes with labelling were found on 7.3% of medicines.

The study, published in the journal Quality and Safety in HealthCare, said: “Contributing factors from 89 interviews included doctors who were not accessible, did not know the residents and lacked information in homes when prescribing; home staff’s high workload, lack of medicines training and drug round interruptions; lack of team work among home, practice and pharmacy; inefficient ordering systems; inaccurate medicine records and prevalence of verbal communication; and difficult to fill (and check) medication administration systems.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Quality and Safety in Health Care

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