Safe and accurate medication administration is important in all healthcare settings, including care homes. Inappropriate medication can jeopardise resident safety and can lead to health complications that could have been otherwise avoided.
Here is a useful guide for caregivers on safe medication administration:
- Avoid distractions: One of the ways to reduce medication errors is to avoid distractions while doing medication rounds. Interruptions can be a major source of errors during medication administration. Having ‘do not disturb’ vests can help caregivers minimise errors. They can ask their supervisor to free caregivers on medication round from other responsibilities such as answering call bells.
- Caregivers should be careful when preparing medications: Preparation of medication is a task that should be carried out with utmost care. When preparing medicines, it should be ensured there is no disturbance. Some care homes have a no-interruption zone (NIZ) where caregivers prepare medications.
- Medication calculations should be done diligently: Miscalculating doses is a common source of medication error. Caregivers should have all the essential information and training in drug calculation. Also, they should use the right measuring unit and tools.
- Two patient identifiers should be used: Many residents in care homes often use their middle names or nicknames instead of their legal names that are mentioned on the medication records. If caregivers were to go by a nickname, it could create confusion and lead to a potentially life-threatening problem. If a patient has the same name as another patient that too can lead to confusion. Caregivers should always use two identifiers such as full name, date of birth and medical ID number. This will improve the patient identification process.
- Allergies should not go unchecked: To improve patient safety, caregivers should ask about allergies or any adverse drug reaction. The severity of the adverse drug reaction should be verified and the doctor concerned should be informed so that either the medicine can be changed or the dose can be reduced. The allergy information should be updated in the MAR sheets.
- Caregivers should not rely on memory: Caregiving is a challenging job that requires caregiving staff to pay constant attention to residents. They are also required to respond quickly to an emergency situation. In such a situation, relying on memory for medicines can be potentially dangerous. Memory slips caused due to lack of attention, fatigue or distractions can compromise the safety of residents. For every resident, standard operating procedures should be followed without fail.
- Residents’ consent should be taken before giving medicine: It is essential that residents are informed before medicines are administered. If residents need additional information about the medicines, the same must be provided by the caregivers. A resident should not be forced to take medication. If a resident completely stops a medication, the GP’s order should be reviewed and the practitioner in charge of the resident should be notified.
- Shortcuts should be avoided: There are many challenges that caregivers will encounter while administering medications daily. However, in such situations it is important for the caregivers to look for the right solutions rather than the ones that look easy. For instance, there is a shortage of a particular medication. In such a scenario, the instructions of the facility should be followed. ‘Borrowing’ medication from another patient while waiting for the pharmacy to stock up the medicines is not right.
Why is eMAR needed at care homes?
Using the eMAR medication system ensures medication is administered reliably – caregivers can enter medication information electronically thus eliminating the need for written notes. . The electronic medication system increases the effectiveness of medication management by providing information about the resident at the click of a button. This means caregivers no longer have to sift through piles of paper to ensure that the right medicine is administered to the right person. Also, timely alerts ensure that no dose is missed.
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