Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy

Many times, I see that several residents within a long term care facility use an outside pharmacy rather that use the ‘house’ pharmacy to provide medications to be administered.  While each long-term care facility is required to have a pharmacy provider under contract the residents are not necessarily required to use the so-called ‘house’ Pharmacy.

Why is that?  Well, one reason is that facilities want to give the residents some control in their own healthcare and thus they allow the residents to use a pharmacy of their choosing.  And while this offering of choice extends a small degree of control to residents and/or their families or responsible parties, and is well intended, it is fraught with a few unforeseen consequences.

By allowing residents to use any number of ‘other’ pharmacies, usually local retail pharmacies, the facility is unwittingly adding variables to the nursing staff responsible for proper, accurate and timely administration of prescription and over the counter medications to residents within homes for the aged. Any time that additional variables are added to a sequence of steps there are now increases in the likelihood of deviation from the norm and create an opportunity for a med error.  The ‘house’ pharmacy provides medications in packaging and labeling that becomes familiar to the nursing staff administering the medications.  Knowing where to look on the packaging or label consistently helps the facility perform an accurate, proper and timely administration of medications, a med pass, as it is commonly called.  Nowadays most long-term care pharmacy providers offer packaging that helps in administering these medications with ease.   While no one system is necessarily better than another, the more consistently that a common, recognized packaging is used, the more accurate the med pass will be.   The packaging is consistent, the pharmacy label is consistent, and the inventory monitoring is consistent as well.

Overall, many subtle structural variations in available resources appear to influence individual nurse behavior and patient interactions, with some notable positive and negative unintentional consequences on medication safety.    Findings suggest that efforts to reduce Medication Administration Errors, MAEs, be focused on three main areas (1) optimization of facility-based medication systems, (2) supporting nurses to manage interruptions and distractions, and (3) actively encouraging patient involvement with their medications where appropriate. (See PLOS One, June 22, 2015)

There are multitudes of information available on the problem of medication errors and the causes.  Sadly, little is known as to why nurses administer medications safely or how facilities can enhance or hinder medication administration.   But what is known is that use of practical, effective, and low-cost strategies of medication administration that are consistent increase safety, reduce hospitalizations and help residents maintain a quality of life, and for facilities to help maintain census.

GrandView Pharmacy provides such practical, effective and low-cost strategies for medication administration.  In addition to those strategies, GrandView Pharmacy services are available 24/7.  Their pharmacists can be accessed 24/7/365 and they specialize in serving the geriatric population, and GrandView offers free delivery, fully integrated with electronic medical records, personal billing specialists, and dedicated account managers, the consultant pharmacists review medications to eliminate ineffective, inappropriate or costly regimens. In addition, GrandView provides specialty pill packaging that will assure medication errors.

About the Author

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