Ensuring Safe Medication Administration in Nursing Homes
As a nursing home owner or manager, part of your responsibility involves e that your guests get the medication they need when they need it. Many older people take several medicines daily, so there are many opportunities for errors and mix-ups, some of which could have disastrous consequences.
It goes without saying that you need to have nursing home insurance which covers you from potential liabilities such as improper medicine dispensation. As suggested previously, mistakes can‒and do‒happen, so you need to be protected from any untoward incident.
That being said, it is also your job as a nursing home owner or administrator to ensure that these mistakes don’t occur. You need to implement comprehensive and well-thought-out policies and systems that minimize the risk of errors and reduces the likelihood of harm to your residents.
Here are some tips to ensure the safe dispensation of medicines to nursing home residents:
- Place all medicines in a centralized location
Gather everything that your residents need and store them in a centralized location. This goes for all medicines, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and dietary and health supplements. Placing them in a central location makes it easier to keep track of them and prevents anything from getting lost or stolen.
It might be best to restrict access to this store of medicines to only one or two trusted personnel and keep them under lock and key. Again, this prevents the theft or loss of medications and supplements and ensures that they are dispensed appropriately.
- Store all medication in a safe and secure location
Most medications need to be kept away from exposure to direct sunlight, moisture, and other factors that could affect their safety and efficacy. Any place where you store your medicines should be dry, dust-free, and not subject to temperature extremes.
Avoid placing medications near kitchens, bathrooms, or any other place where it could be exposed to heat and moisture. They should also be kept where they aren’t easily accessible to unauthorized personnel. If certain medications need to be kept within a prescribed temperature range, such as in a refrigerator, make sure that you have the appropriate storage space for them.
- Keep a record of all medications administered to residents
Being organized is essential for the safe and timely dispensation of medicines. It’s a good idea to have a list of all nursing home residents along with the medications they need. Make sure that the list is accurate, and update it as necessary.
You might want to put together a spreadsheet on your computer that includes the following details:
- Names of each resident
- The medicines, OTC medication, vitamins, and supplements they need
- The schedule for each medication
- The appropriate dosage
- The reason for taking the medication
Other details you may want to include are the name of the doctor or healthcare provider who prescribed the medicine and how long the resident is required to take them.
- Prepare the medicines in advance
At the beginning of every week, consult the list you have made and prepare the medications for each resident. You may want to have a temporary dispensing station where you place only the type and amount of medications that each resident needs for the week. This helps ensure that you have enough to meet their needs and saves you the trouble of having to retrieve the medications from the main supply every time you need to give them to the resident.
Consider getting pill organizers for each resident. Many of these have appropriately numbered compartments that let you place the right number of medications for the week.
- Familiarize yourself with possible drug interactions
Doctors will generally be aware of possible drug interactions and prescribe the amount and type of medication as needed. But it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the possible side effects and interactions for each medication and resident so you will be prepared for any problems.
If you notice or suspect any interactions that the doctor didn’t mention, make sure to call the hospital or clinic right away. Don’t change the type or dosage without first consulting with the doctor.
- Read and understand the instructions for all medications
Finally, make sure you understand the right dosage, frequency, and method of administration for each medication. Always follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter and don’t make changes to the schedule or dosage on your own. Remember that only the primary care physician is responsible for prescribing the medication, so always defer to these professionals when dispensing medicine.
About Midwest Insurance Group
Midwest Insurance Group is a risk retention group developed by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services in response to the unique needs of the healthcare industry, particularly that of senior living facilities. With rising premium costs and difficulties in obtaining coverage from the traditional professional and general liability insurance market, Midwest Insurance Group represents a viable, long-term insurance alternative for the senior living sector, giving members complete control over costs and claims management. Midwest Insurance Group is reinsured with Lloyd’s of London, and A rated by Demotech.