Safer drug prescribing for seniors in nursing homes: Canada leads the way

Toronto, CANADA -- Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care is the first long-term care facility in Canada, and one of the first in North America, to take a major leap forward in the use of health information technology to improve prescribing and follow-up of medications to institutionalized elderly.

Troubling evidence has emerged in recent years from Canadian and American studies that many seniors in nursing homes are overmedicated, at high risk for adverse drug events because they're often on several medications, and not receiving the most appropriate drugs that have the lowest risk of side effects. The nursing home is one of the most complex pharmacotherapeutic settings in all of medicine and potentially places elderly residents at greater risk for drug-related injury than any other patient population. Research has shown that medication errors resulting in preventable adverse drug events occur most often at the time the drug is being prescribed and in the follow-up.

This fall, Baycrest completed the rollout of a state-of-the-art computerized physician order entry system (CPOE) with clinical decision support (CDS) -- throughout its hospital and adjacent nursing home. The aim is to improve the quality of medication prescribing with regard to choice of therapy, medication dosing and monitoring of drug therapy. This is expected to reduce prescribing decisions that lead to adverse drug events.

The project was challenging from the outset because clinical decision support software specifically tailored for the long-term care setting did not exist! Baycrest had to "homegrow" a software program (with Meditech) that would meet the unique needs of physician prescribing for the geriatric population -- a population that often presents complex and multiple health challenges. Baycrest also upgraded its facility-wide servers to increase the system speed and installed a wireless network. This enables Baycrest doctors to access the CPOE/CDS system from anyw

Contact: Kelly Connelly, Media Relations

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