DoH calls for review of care home dispensing

The DoH has called for PCTs to work with their GPs, pharmacists and social care providers to determine how medication errors in residential care homes for elderly people can be reduced.

The DoH's alert, which was released through the NHS Central Alerting System, called for PCTs to review the 'safety of local prescribing, dispensing, administration, and monitoring arrangements in the provision of medication to older people in care homes'.

The alert cited evidence from a government-funded report, published last year, that suggested that on any one day seven out of 10 patients in residential care homes experienced at least one medication error.

Chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) Sue Sharpe echoed the DoH's call, and said the number of medication errors taking place in care homes was 'extremely concerning'.

Ms Sharpe also recommended that reviewing care home residents' medication use and administration should be established as a standardised pharmacy service.

'Many care home residents are on highly complex courses of medication and need effective support and guidance to manage these,' she said.

'Community pharmacists should play a key role in ensuring that vulnerable patients are not disproportionately harmed by medical errors.'

She added: 'If this problem is to be tackled, community pharmacies will need to work in close partnership with GPs and care homes to ensure care home residents receive the support and guidance they need.'

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