The Human Factor: Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors in Long-Term Care Settings

The world’s population is aging. And that ever-increasing elderly population requires care. While the majority of older Americans live with family, several million live in assisted living or long-term care facilities. 

One study indicates that 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will require long-term care at some point, be it at a skilled nursing facility, a nursing home, or an assisted living community. Regardless of where older Americans live, medication errors are a dangerous reality that come with potentially stark consequences. 

Medication errors can cause serious side effects, exacerbate the severity of chronic conditions, lead to hospitalizations, and even prove fatal.

The prevalence of medication error is difficult to pin down, but some research suggests it can happen as frequently as 25% of the time and another suggests it is on the rise. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of all medication errors can be attributed to basic human mistakes. The other half are linked to medication administration. 

Frustrated nurse with palm on forehead

A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that the “most severe and preventable” medication errors occurred in the administration phase of the medication process, which in some cases can account for more than one-third of the time in a nurse’s shift. Challenges associated with medication administration in a long-term care facility include the fact that many patients are prescribed up to 10 medications and a majority of patients need assistance taking them.

Some of the most common errors, according to the National Institutes of Health, include under dosage, overdosage, an omitted dose, wrong patient or wrong strength. One way to reduce or prevent medication errors in a long-term care facility is to partner with a long-term care pharmacy. 

The Benefits Of An LTC Pharmacy Partner

Long-term care pharmacies, like UnitedRx, understand the unique challenges long-term care facilities face when caring for their patients. The best long-term care pharmacy partners integrate processes and protocols that help facilities mitigate obstacles and prevent medication errors.

At UnitedRx, for example, we use a host of systems that help improve the medication error landscape for long-term care facilities. Those systems include a five-point quality check, security protocols, Medispan database verification, and technology — like Framework and TCGRX — that help us help our long-term care facility partners.

In addition, our partnerships offer services to long-term care facilities that are aimed at reducing a nurse’s administrative time and increasing their time spent with patients, which helps to foster a more focused environment, especially when it comes to medication administration.

By handling billing, prior authorization, medication tracking, and other administrative tasks for the nursing staff at long-term care facilities, our partnerships alleviate a cumbersome burden and ultimately facilitate atmospheres where accurate medication administration can take place. 

Learn more about how our practices at UnitedRx may help your long-term care facility reduce medication errors by connecting with someone on our team! 

At UnitedRx, we deliver a hometown pharmacy experience to more than 400 clients across the country. Contact us to learn more about how our approach to treatment can meet the pharmacy needs of your long-term care facility.