WHAT IS KNOWN AND OBJECTIVE: With the ageing of the population also comes increasing comorbidities and the use of multiple medications and administration methods, along with greater susceptibility to adverse drug reactions. Dosage form modification to facilitate drug administration in older adults can be potentially problematic as altering the original licensed formulation can affect medication safety and efficacy. The reporting of adverse drug reactions and medication incidents is a key strategy in avoiding preventable adverse drug events for aged care residents. This study evaluated the effect of an on-site clinical pharmacist on reducing inappropriate dosage form modification and staff time spent on medication administration, and optimizing the documentation of drug allergies, adverse drug reactions and medication incidents.
METHODS: A pilot-controlled trial was performed in a purposive sample of two residential aged care homes. Both homes belonged to the same organization; the study site had 104 beds and the control site had 100 beds. All permanent residents were eligible for inclusion in the study if written consent was provided. A residential care pharmacist position was implemented at the study site for six months, with a focus on performing medication reviews and quality improvement activities. Observational audits of medication rounds were performed, and documentation relating to allergies, adverse drug reactions, and medication incidents was obtained from both sites before and after the pharmacist trial period.
RESULTS: At the study site, there was a significant reduction over the trial in the proportion of inappropriate dosage form modification (from 24% to 0% of all dosage form modifications; P < 0.01). Mean time spent on medication rounds per resident reduced from 4.8 minutes per resident (SD 1.1) to 3.2 minutes per resident (SD 1.7) per round (P < 0.05). The incidence of previous allergy and adverse drug reaction documentation significantly improved from 77% of residents pre-study to 100% of residents post-study (P < 0.01). Mean monthly medication incident reports significantly improved from 13.3 (SD 7.4) pre-study to 25.7 (SD 10.8) post-study (P < 0.05). There was no change in these outcomes at the control site.
WHAT IS NEW AND CONCLUSION: Including a pharmacist in a residential aged care home can improve medication administration practices by reducing inappropriate dosage form modification and staff time spent on medication administration rounds, and increasing the documentation of resident allergies, adverse drug reactions and medication incidents. These findings warrant further exploration in a large randomized controlled trial.