Pharmacists’ Errors Hurt The Elderly

Medical Records, Medication Errors

Pharmacists are often tasked with the duty to review medications for patients in nursing homes. The safety net that is provided by pharmacists does benefit many who have a physician or nurse that may from time to time overlook a contraindication with a medication or make some other error.

A new report by the department of health in California suggests that pharmacists aren’t always on the lookout for the elderly patients they serve in nursing homes. The report found that in 18 out of 32 investigations conducted in nursing homes between May of 2010 and June of 2011, pharmacists failed to act when residents were prescribed antipsychotics improperly. Pharmacists failed to identify improper use of antipsychotics in nursing home residents a whopping 90% of the time.

Additionally the report found that the majority of these nursing homes were paying their pharmacists below-average fees, which could lead pharmacists to endorse or extend prescriptions of expensive drugs. The average pharmacist in California is paid $56.00 per hour; however, the report found that some facilities were paying as low as $11.00 an hour. Pharmacists who are underpaid may be looking for financial incentives behind their drug recommendations.

After the investigation, not a single facility was issued a citation or fine.

The laws in California require pharmacists who work in nursing homes to review residents’ charts monthly in order to consult with treating physicians about discontinuing drugs that may be having harmful side effects on residents.

In response to the DOH’s report, the agency passed a regulation limiting the use of antipsychotics to only those uses approved by the FDA.

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