Reducing Medication Errors

Research has shown that medication error rates in assisted living and residential care communities are close to 30%.  However, over 70% of errors are related to dose timing, which means they can be easily reduced/avoided.  Follow these steps to reduce the medication error rate in your community:

  1. Track your error rate: The simple act of tracking error rates can help to make it a priority for you and your staff.
  2. Adjust the timing of medications: Work with resident physician’s and pharmacies to adjust the timing of medications so that they are not all given at the same time of day.  This will help spread the workload more evenly for your staff and allow them to stay on schedule.
  3. Use the “three check method”: Your staff should check the medication label against the medication record (MAR) three times when preparing medications: once when pulling the medication from storage, again when pouring the medication, and one last time right before returning it to storage.
  4. Stay focused: Prepare medications in a quiet, well lit area that is free from distractions.
  5. Avoid pre-pouring: Pre-pouring medications for multiple residents at one time increases the likelihood of an error.
  6. Don’t forget the little things: Question the use of multiple tablets to prepare a single dose of medication; anything more than two tablets for one dose of a medication is unusual.  Question any change in the color, size, or form of medication; pharmacies can make mistakes too.
  7. Use your resources: Make sure your staff have access to resource for more information, including the resident’s physician, a pharmacist, and medication reference books.

2 Responses to “Reducing Medication Errors”

  1. If timeing is responsible for 70%of the 30% of med errors, it may be worth it to ensure all your staff know the meaning and the time relationship of BID, TID, QID, N/S, etc, and understand the hours that go along with them. I might be that the staff are not able to work with the terminology…

  2. Great point, Andy!

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