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Nursing Home Liquid, Cream, Inhaler Drug Error Rates Higher

Hands with arthritis (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

A study in British nursing homes finds wide variations in medicinal delivery error rates depending on the formulation and type of delivery system. The results are published in the online edition of the journal BMJ Quality and Safety (paid subscription required).

The research team from University of Leeds, University of London, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tracked medicinal administration errors identified by pharmacists observing two drug rounds of 233 residents in 55 nursing and residential homes in the U.K.

The researchers computed the error rates of the different medicinal delivery methods used in the homes and compared them to monitored dosage systems (MDSs) — a tray or cassette with compartments for one or more doses for a particular day or a given time. The team found drugs administered with inhalers had error rates 33 times higher than MDSs, while drugs given through creams, injections, or eye drops were 19 times higher to be erroneous.

Drugs given as liquids were found to have error rates four times that of MDSs. And capsules or tablets given from the original manufacturers’ packaging had error rates twice that of MDSs.

The researchers recommended better training for nursing home staff in the administering medicines to patients, but also a better understanding of the use of MDSs in nursing homes.

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