Avoiding medication errors and missed medications is a priority for all aged care facilities. Today we look at an updated blog post from 2013 that’s message is as important as ever; electronic medication management can help reduce medication errors and ensure the health and safety of residents.
People are now living independently in their homes for longer than previous generations thought possible. As a result, by the time a person enters residential aged care they are more likely to have complex and chronic co-morbidities with intricate medication regimes to suit.
Medication errors continue to be a major problem in aged care, and can occur as a result of failures in prescribing, dispensing, administering, managing or monitoring residents’ medication. With the average aged care resident now taking nine medications per day, the need to protect residents from errors is becoming increasingly important. In this context, the processes aged care providers employ to manage high rates of polypharmacy must evolve to support the enhanced safety of residents.
The majority of medication errors are preventable, with the right system in place. Below we explore the ways that electronic medication management solutions can ensure the principles of the six Rs of correct medication administration – right resident, right medication, right route, right dose, right documentation and right time – is not compromised.
Hand written, paper-based medication charts are widely recognised as a common source of errors in aged care. Illegibility can increase the chance of the wrong medication being prescribed, dispensed and administered.
Medication management systems that support electronic medication charts can significantly reduce errors associated with illegible handwriting, unclear terminology, and the other common breakdowns in communication. Electronic medication charts centralise all medication information in a clear and concise manner to provide a single source of truth, with accurate and timely data available to ensure the right medication is given to the right resident. In this area alone, electronic medication management systems greatly reduce the scope for medication errors and contribute to enhanced resident safety.
With mobile technology solutions, staff can now use mobile devices to sign in electronically at the start of a medication round. Only the medications to be administered during a specific round are displayed to the staff member, accompanied by photo identification of each resident along with useful directions to ensure medications are administered as intended. Staff can also input and retrieve important information about each resident at the point of care, which is logged and maintained in a clear and accurate audit trail.
The risk of timing errors are also reduced with electronic medication management, as alerts and alarms will automatically prompt staff if a medication has not been administered. For accountability, an adequate reason is captured within the system before progressing to the next resident. Electronic medication administration processes ensure all administered and non-administered medications are recorded, and can be tracked and reviewed at any time.
Communication with pharmacies
Another commonly recognised cause for medication errors is poor communication between the pharmacy and aged care facility. Using a manual medication management system, the medication chart must be faxed or scanned to the pharmacy from the facility each time a change is made to a paper-based medication chart. In most cases, this requires a follow up phone call to confirm the pharmacy has received the chart and is actioning the changes.
Electronic medication management systems provide greater security, management and accountability by facilitating online communication with the pharmacy. A clear and transparent flow of communications between the aged care facility and the pharmacy is recorded electronically to help eliminate the uncertainties around medication dispensing, and to help achieve optimal medication management.
Continue the conversation below. Let us know more of the ways electronic medication management systems are improving the safety of residents in your facility.