Adverse drug events in nursing homes are far more common than previously identified

Injuries from adverse drug events in the long-term care setting are more common than previously documented, and largely preventable, according to the findings of a study published today in The American Journal of Medicine.

"This study confirms that drug-related injuries continue to be a major problem in the long-term care setting," said lead author Jerry H. Gurwitz, MD, the Dr. John Meyers Professor of Primary Care Medicine and professor of medicine and family medicine & community health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the executive director of the Meyers Primary Care Institute, which directed the study. "This makes for a compelling argument for the use of information technology and management systems that can improve communications and decision-making among physicians, nurses and staff, to prevent these kinds of events."

Dr. Gurwitz and a team of physicians and pharmacists reviewed patient records at two large academic long-term care facilities that, combined, had a total of 1229 beds. Researchers looked at patient records covering an 8-month period for one site, and a 9-month period for the other. (December 2000 through July 2001 and December 2000 through August, 2001, respectively) During that time, researchers identified 815 adverse drug events which caused injury to the patient. Of those events, 590 were deemed "less serious", 188 were classified "serious", 33 were called "life-threatening" and four events were fatal. The events were typically caused by errors in drug prescribing and monitoring; these errors included using the wrong dose of a medication, prescribing drugs that interacted with each other, and failing to watch closely for drug side effects. Adverse events were less commonly associated with errors in drug dispensing and administration.

All told, the data translates to a combined rate of nearly 10 adverse drug events per month for every 100 residents of the long-term care facilities. Furtherm

Contact: Pam Poppalardo
212-633 3944
Elsevier Health Sciences

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