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Medication Errors in Nursing Home Residents Assessed

U.K. study suggests that one or more errors affect nearly 70 percent of residents

THURSDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In the United Kingdom, more than two-thirds of nursing home residents may be exposed to medication errors, according to a study in the October issue of Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Nick D. Barber, Ph.D., of the School of Pharmacy in London, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of a random sample of 256 residents in 55 nursing homes who were taking a mean of eight medications.

The researchers found that one or more medication errors occurred in 178 (69.5 percent) of residents and that a mean of 1.9 errors occurred per resident. On a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating no harm and 10 indicating death, they found that the mean potential harm from prescribing, monitoring, administration and dispensing errors was 2.6, 3.7, 2.1 and 2.0, respectively. They also found that factors which contributed to errors included inaccessible doctors who were unfamiliar with residents and lacked sufficient information to appropriately prescribe medications.

"We suggest the idea of a lead (not sole) general practitioner for each home should be explored," the authors write. "This role would need protected time and associated funding. In addition to caring for patients, they should liaise with other general practitioners and have responsibility to ensure, possibly by commissioning services, that patients on riskier medicines are appropriately monitored and that all patients' medication is regularly reviewed by a pharmacist."

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