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Studies Show Medication Errors Result in Preventable Harm in up to 27% of Nursing Home Patients

By Jack H. FarnbauchNovember 27, 2016

According to a new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, medication errors affect 16–27% of nursing home residents, researchers have found. The study also found that about 75% of residents had been prescribed a potentially inappropriate medicine. 

The authors performed a systematic review of 11 studies published between 2000 and 2015 into the prevalence of medication errors in nursing homes that led to hospitalization or death. Most of the residents involved in the studies were female, aged over 75 years and around half were diagnosed with dementia or cognitive impairment and had a significant number had comorbidities. The number of residents involved in the studies were large – ranging from 20,820 to 251,305 residents, except for one study, which included a population of 87.

Five studies considered all medication errors, five looked at errors that occurred when residents were transferred from one setting to another, and one study addressed residents given potentially inappropriate medicines. Overall, the most frequent medication error was wrong dosage, which was also most likely to cause harm. While this study is quite expansive, it is hard to calculate exact numbers when it comes to medication errors. Many of these nursing statistics are underreported and difficult to pinpoint exact causes. This study does shed some light on the wide reaching problem of medication errors in nursing homes. 

Read the entire study.