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Reducing Medication Errors in Home Care


According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), medication errors are estimated to harm at least 1.5 million patients per year in the U.S. alone. Medication errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury for Medicare beneficiaries. Due to the frequency of medication and complex process of prescribing and administering drugs, medication errors are one of the most visible medical errors. Elderly home health care patients usually suffer from comorbidities and are prescribed multiple medications by various providers, all of which could be easily mismanaged and administered at the incorrect times or dosages. Furthermore, the unstructured environment and communication challenges present in the home health care system add more complexity to this issue.

After much analysis, studies were conducted to find out what systems the home health care provider could put in place in order to reduce the medication error rates. The study implemented 3 different systems and compared them to the control group who were given the usual treatment.

  • Intervention Type 1: Daily videophone, regular telephone reminders
  • Intervention Type 2: Video, Tailored to Individual
  • Intervention Type 3: Medication program to identify possible med problems and coordinate with pharmacist and nurse

After thorough analysis, the study revealed that all three intervention types were effective in preventing therapeutic duplication and improving the use of cardiovascular medications. However the study did reveal that it proved less effectively against patients who took psychotropic medication or NSAIDs. Bottom line, the studies proved that medication management is extremely vital to home care agencies and those who are able to utilize technology and adapt to modern methods will help improve patient outcomes the most.

Using Technology To Reduce Med Errors

A study conducted by Cynthia F. Corbett of Washington State University showed that nurse interventionists were able to significantly reduce medication errors with the help of an EMR. The results demonstrated that nurse interventionists were able to resolve over 90% of medication inconsistencies. However, nurses still are hesitant to switch from a paper-based agency to a complete EMR because of the cost of the hardware and training, loss of personal interaction with the patient, etc. However, with the way that Medicare is cutting reimbursements across the board, it is becoming more of a necessity to get agencies on an EMR to become efficient and save money. Further analysis also stated that once an agency adopted an EMR, there was a significant reduction in acute care use for patients who received the interventions listed above as compared to the control group who received usual home health services. Therefore, it is clear that whether nurses jump onboard to use an EMR or not is becoming less of a deciding factor than the fact that EMRs help agencies save time, money, improve compliance, and most importantly helps the patients with important life-saving decisions such as taking the right medicine.

KanTime is imagination realized. What do you imagine for your agency?