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Medication errors affect three quarters of care home residents

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Overworked care-home staff, poor teamwork and lack of training mean three quarters of elderly residents are subject to medication errors.

A study by Leeds, London and Surrey universities includes data on 256 residents, each of which was typically taking eight medicines, throughout 55 care homes across England.

It found that 69.5% had been subject to one or more medication errors. Misdispensing was identified in 7.3% of cases, according to the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care.

One hundred residents were subject to prescribing errors, it says, including the wrong dose and not enough information on how the drug should be taken.

The report added: “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.”

Poor communication “within and among the home, GP practice and pharmacy” was an important factor, it says.

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