Dosage Errors Should be Dispensed With

Nursing homes medication errors four times more likely for liquid medicines than pills organized in dispensers

(RxWiki News) New research published in BMJ Quality and Safety finds nursing home patients are four times as likely to be given the wrong dose of medicine in liquid form as opposed to pill form delivered via dispensers.

Dispensers, known as monitored dosage systems or MDS for short, include compartments for each day of the week and are intended to curb risk of mistakes. However, swallowing difficulties or certain conditions mean dispensers are not always effective since inhalers, certain cancer drugs, injections and those requiring refrigeration cannot be stored in the devices.

The study followed 233 residents in 55 nursing homes in the United Kingdom and found dosing errors four times higher in liquid medicines than dispenser-arranged pills among the 53 percent of medications organized in dispensers, 29 percent not provided in dispensers, 4 percent inhalers and remaining medicines (creams, ointments, eye drops, injectables, etc.)

The likelihood of a dosing error increased 19 times when a cream, injection or eye drop was used and 33 times when inhalers were used.

The dosing error rate was twice as high for pills not organized in dispensers compared to capsules and tablets that were arranged in dispensers.

A separate study indicates 528 deaths were reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from medication errors within a 5-year span.

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Review Date: 
February 8, 2011