With Americans living longer, the average stay in a long-term care facility has increased up to 835 days, per the CDC. However, more important than the length of stay is the quality of health and care while patients are in residence. Patient outcomes are affected by several factors, but one of the biggest contributors to poor outcomes and readmission is errors with medication prescription and fulfillment.
While medications are intended to prevent or treat illness, they also hold the potential to cause harm when taken incorrectly. Medication errors in long-term care facilities can occur at various stages of the medication process, including:
The frequency of medication errors also increases with the presence of certain risk factors, such as use of high-alert medications. Polypharmacy also increases the chance of adverse drug-to-drug interactions, overdoses, and complications. Patient transfers are another leading contributor of errors, with up to 31 percent of residents experiencing a medication error during transitions of care.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that about half of adverse drug events are preventable. Addressing the risk for medication errors in long-term care facilities starts with establishing systems and procedures to eliminate the potential for harm. Organizations should review their processes and take steps towards improved medication management by leveraging available assets, including:
With various factors involved in resident care, combining these strategies in a meaningful and tactical approach can have a significant impact on medication accuracy and patient outcomes.
Vulnerable populations are at serious risk of harm from medication errors. But proper steps can reduce the likelihood of adverse events. PharMerica can help you deliver better care and improve your outcomes. Contact us at info@PharMerica.com or 800-564-1640 to learn more.