Staff education and strict protocols eliminate errors
OMNI Health Care long-term care homes and pharmacy services supplier Medical Pharmacies work together using strict protocols to ensure residents are kept safe from medication harm, says Carla Beaton, Medical Pharmacies’ vice-president of clinical innovations and quality improvement.
Staff member education plays a key role in this process, Beaton says. Medical Pharmacies provides continuous staff education about medication use, including how to administer medications to all residents safely and what to monitor for effectiveness and/or side effects.
“(Long-term-care home) staff are highly trained in handling the specially packaged medications safely so residents receive their specific medication at specific times,” Beaton explains. “There are policies and procedures in place to guide staff on proper ordering, receiving, administration, documentation and destruction of unused medications.”
Medical Pharmacies’ pharmacists are highly trained in understanding appropriate dosing of medications for the elderly, Beaton notes. The company’s pharmacists visit homes regularly to review each resident’s medications and to make recommendations to avoid drug-related problems.
Medical Pharmacies’ pharmacists also work with long-term-care home staff to ensure medications are not putting residents at risk of falls or becoming confused. Each resident’s medications are reviewed quarterly or more often as needed if conditions change. Physicians and pharmacists are available 24/7 for resident needs.
Additionally, Ontario’s long-term care homes are regulated under the Long-Term Care Homes Act 2007 and inspected by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to ensure compliance to regulations. Ongoing internal auditing by pharmacy staff of the medication management system (including storage, handling and documentation) ensures the residents are safe from medication errors, Beaton notes.
There is a lot of documentation to make sure all steps are being checked and carried out. Quality improvement measures are continually ongoing to make the system safer, she adds.
For example, if medication incidents happen – and when they do, most are “near misses,” meaning they are caught before they affect the resident – Medical Pharmacies has a robust online medication incident reporting system to capture the error, Beaton says.
This enhanced reporting system allows quick communication to home management and the pharmacy so issues are corrected quickly. Incidents are tracked and trended allowing OMNI and Medical Pharmacies to update their policies and processes to avoid the mistake reoccurring.
Medical Pharmacies also encourages residents’ family members to become involved with their loved ones’ care plans to ensure their questions are answered, since each resident is unique and has their own special needs.
“Medical Pharmacies’ pharmacists are available to answer any medication related questions that the resident or their families might have,” Beaton adds. “Communication between family, residents and the health-care team is so important to ensure we all do our best for resident safety.”
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