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Poor communication “to blame” for medicine errors

6 October 2009

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Poor communication between doctors, pharmacies and those working in care homes has contributed to seven out of 10 elderly residents becoming victims of medicine errors, according to a study.

Researchers from universities in Leeds, London and Surrey examined data from 256 residents recruited from 55 care homes across England. Each resident was typically taking eight medicines each. They also carried out interviews with doctors, pharmacists and residential care home staff.

The research found that 178 (69.5%) residents had been subject to one or more medication errors – typically two per person. Of these, 94 residents were the victims of dispensing errors and 100 people were subject to prescribing errors, including the wrong dose and not enough information on how the drug should be taken.

The study said: “Contributing factors from 89 interviews included doctors who were not accessible, did not know the residents and lacked information in homes when prescribing; home staff’s high workload, lack of medicines training and drug round interruptions; lack of team work among home, practice and pharmacy; inefficient ordering systems; inaccurate medicine records and prevalence of verbal communication; and difficult to fill (and check) medication administration systems.”

The study was published in the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Quality And Safety In Health Care Journal