Medication errors in nursing homes can have dire consequences, as elderly residents are often more susceptible to overdosing and adverse reactions from taking an incorrect medication. Many elderly residents also rely on medication to help alleviate the negative effects of chronic health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Ensuring that all nursing home residents take the right dose of their prescribed medication at the right time of day is important, but it can be difficult in a busy nursing home.
One way that nursing homes can help reduce the occurrence of medication errors is to enroll their staff in a medication management training program. These programs teach health care workers how to administer medication with minimal risk of error and help the workers know how to make your nursing home a safer environment for your residents.
Understanding Common Medications and Dosages
For health care workers in a nursing home, knowing which medications are commonly prescribed to the elderly and their usual dosages is important. Health care workers need to know dosing information in order to avoid accidentally giving residents too much medication. If the dosage of an ordered medication appears to be wrong, a health care worker can contact the resident's doctor in order to confirm the dose.
Understanding what medications do also helps health care workers explain the purpose of the medication to residents. This can help prevent medication errors from happening, as nursing home residents who realize that they've already taken their medication can ask the health care worker to double-check that they're supposed to receive it. When residents can't identify the medications that they're supposed to take, they won't be able to communicate this information to staff.
Identifying Adverse Reactions
Health care workers must also spot any adverse reactions to medication or interactions between two medications. For example, fainting can be a side effect of medication that lowers blood pressure. Likewise, excessive drowsiness due to low blood sugar can be a side effect of medication for diabetes.
When health care workers learn to spot these common side effects by enrolling in medication management training, they're able to contact the resident's doctor and report any adverse reactions that occur. The resident's doctor may decide to wean the resident off the medication or lower the dosage. Without adequate training in detecting adverse reactions to medication, health care workers may be unaware that events are related to the medication that a resident is taking and have difficulty finding the true cause of the event and communicating it to the resident's doctor.
Recording Medication Administration and Taking Inventory
Keeping records of when medications are administered to residents is very important to prevent double dosing. It's particularly important when residents are prescribed medication on an as-needed basis, since these may be administered at different times during the day rather than on a fixed schedule.
In a medication management training program, health care workers will learn how to note the medications that they've given residents, whether it's on the facility's electronic medication administration record or on a paper chart in the resident's room. Good record-keeping helps to prevent accidental overdosing.
Medication management training programs also teach health care workers how to take inventory of the medications that the facility has in stock. When combined with excellent record-keeping, this allows the facility to know that all of the prescribed medications are being administered correctly.
Reporting Medication Errors
Finally, medication management training programs stress the importance of reporting medication errors whenever they occur, and they train health care workers on the proper procedures for reporting them. Any medication errors that occur always need to be reported, since the facility will need to take action in order to ensure the resident's safety and well-being. Whether the wrong medication was administered to the resident or if they received too much, the resident's doctor needs to be notified in order to determine how to proceed with dosing and what side effects health care workers should watch for.
Overall, enrolling your staff in a medication management training program helps improve the safety of your residents by decreasing the likelihood of medication errors. When staff is trained to administer medications properly and notice any adverse reactions that may occur, they're better able to serve your residents.
Contact a medication management training program for more information.