There are numerous factors to consider when evaluating medication safety in long-term care facilities. While each carries their unique risk to resident well-being, the most common risks are:
A 2014 study by the Office of the Inspector General indicated that 22% of Medicare beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities experienced an adverse event during their stay, with more than half of them being preventable.
A critical step in ensuring safe medication procedures are followed in long-term care facilities is the use of consultant pharmacists, according to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety. These consultant pharmacists can help ensure safe outcomes for residents through optimal medication management by finding appropriate pharmaceutical solutions to suit the individual needs of residents, and providing in-service training and educate the staff on medication-related topics.
Additional opportunities that are available to improve prescription drug safety are the use of e-prescribing, electronic alerts and reminders, and automated dispensing.
Ultimately the greatest chance for sustainable improvement to medication safety is the cultivation of a safe environment. Shifting from an environment of blame and discipline – which can reduce the rate of incident reporting – to one that takes a proactive approach to resident safety while empowering staff is key. A combination of multiple strategies can be effective in this effort, including focusing on early interventions, staff engagement, and improved communication protocols between nursing staff, physicians, and pharmacists.
With nearly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries experiencing an adverse event during their nursing home stay, prevention is key in these complex settings. To learn how PharMerica can help you improve medication safety and outcomes, contact us at info@PharMerica.com or 800-564-1640 to learn more.