Medication errors are currently one of the greatest safeguarding vulnerabilities within the adult social care sector in the UK. A hotly debated topic across the sector, and one receiving more attention now there are tools available to mitigate these risks.

The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) say:

‘A safeguarding issue in relation to management of medicines could include the deliberate withholding of a medicine(s) without a valid reason, the incorrect use of medicine(s) for reasons other than benefit of a resident, deliberate attempt to harm through use of a medicine(s), or accidental harm caused by incorrect administration or a medication error.

Cases of deliberate medication related safeguarding issues are rare, with the majority of medication errors being unintentional. SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) shared a study conducted in UK based adult social care services to monitor the prevalence, potential cause and harm of medication errors. The study followed 256 residents across 55 homes. The residents in this study took a mean of 8 medicines per day.

The findings

The study found that 69.5% of these residents experienced a medication error during the time of the study. 87.6% of these errors were categorised as ‘incomplete information’. This category was made up of ‘missing strength/route’, ‘unnecessary drug’, and ‘dose/strength error’.

 

An eye opening volume of errors!

It can be argued that the sectors issue of high staff turnover makes it hard to not only train staff sufficiently, but maintain the level of competency within the sector.

The most common issues facing medicine processes in Care Home revolve around missed (or undocumented) administrations. Following from this wrong medication, whether this be the wrong dose, route, form or time. The average elderly care home resident takes 7.2 medicines per day. When looking at a 50-bed home, that is 360 medicines per day. Making it 131,400 medicines per year…or in other words 131,400 potential medication errors per year; posing a huge potential risk for a care home.

So what can be done to reduce the risk of medication errors?

eMAR

eMAR (electronic Medication Administration Record) is more than just an electronic medication record.  It is a system with strong workflows embedded in the product to ensure that no step is missed regarding all your medication processes. These workflows span across ordering, administration, disposal, stock management and low stock alerting. It is your personal assistant when it comes to managing your medicines. A solid eMAR solution will enabled management to gain a greater insight into the operations surround the management of medicines, therefore making it easier to identify areas of concern.

What we have found…

As an organisation, we partnered with a care provider and ran a pilot scheme across 3 homes, and measured Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at week 1 and week 12 of the trial. During this period 136,746 medicines were administered. What we found was that in week 12 there was a 30% reduction of PRN usage compared to week 1. There was also an 11% reduction in Medication Exceptions, 10% reductions of Meds Administrations (due to increased visibility leading to medication optimisation) and a 20% reduction in late administration.

As you can imagine, over the course of a year there is a substantial saving for both the NHS and your care organisation. The main saving for you as a business is time. All documentation is completed as you go, with no need to sit down and complete manual forms. The amount of time saved is obviously dependant on the size of your home/group, however expect a minimum of 1 hour per staff member regardless.

An eMAR system will ensure that your team are following all the right steps in regards to ordering, checking in, administering and disposing medicines to ensure you are compliance as an organisation as well as ensuring a high quality of care for your residents.

eMAR is here to save you time and money…and it’s not going anywhere. The main purpose of implementing an eMAR system is to safeguard your residents, maximise efficiencies and achieve compliance.

Our Medication Management Solution enables care organisations to efficiently manage their entire medication processes; from ordering medicines, checking medicines into the home, administering medication, managing inventory and disposal of medicines. Partnered with our eLearning module, you can be assured that your team are competently trained on using the system as well as ensuring they maintain their knowledge with refreshing their memory through the use of our training courses. Here’s what the CQ had to say when they visited one of our clients:

“The home used an electronic medicine administration system which reduced the risk of errors and omissions. Medicines were only administered by staff who have received training and had been checked as competent to do so.”