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Care home drug errors could be cut

Putting pharmacists in charge of medication in old people's homes could help avoid errors, according to research.

Mistakes fell by 91% over the course of four months in a trial where a pharmacist was handed full responsibility for a care home's medicine management. Medication errors pose a greater risk to elderly people living in homes than those in other settings, including hospitals.

Doctors, nurses and care home staff can look after medicines and oversee their distribution to patients in care homes.

Errors could be cut down by improving training and communication between staff, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists and the head of the nursing home, according to research at a 69-bed care home.

Weekly visits to the care home took place and pharmacy records were placed under continuous review.

The results showed putting a pharmacist in charge led to far fewer errors in areas such as medication type, dosage and records not being kept up-to-date.

The total number of errors in these areas fell from 138 to 12.

The study comes after research last November showed people living in care homes are being put at risk because of sub-standard systems for handing out medicine.

The University of London blamed inadequate information, over-worked staff, poor teamwork and often complex courses of medication.

The latest study was presented by postgraduate researcher Majghan Saeed at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's annual conference in London.

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