September 11, 2008

Review Call Over Nursing Home Drugs


THERE has been a call for pharmacist-led medicine reviews in all Northern Ireland nursing homes after new research revealed that over half of patients had been prescribed inappropriate drugs for sedation.

The study, launched at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, found 51% of nursing home patients are taking inappropriate psychoactive drugs.

The BPC said psychotropic medications, which act mainly on the central nervous system have historically been used in nursing homes to sedate residents with no clinical need, including night-time sedation.

Raymond Anderson, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, said the results of the studies clearly showed a need for pharmacist-led medicine reviews.

"The high numbers of nursing home residents cited by these studies as being on inappropriate medication is of great concern. However, the studies also point to a demonstrable solution: extended use of pharmacist-led medicines reviews within care homes," he explained.

"Repeated studies have now shown the value and need of such medication reviews. The society therefore urges that medicines reviews be conducted in nursing homes both as standard practice, and at regular intervals - at least every six months.

"Such a policy would also reduce admissions to acute hospitals as elderly patients are able to cope better with their prescribed medicines."

Researchers who conducted the two pharmacy studies in Northern Ireland adapted a US model of pharmaceutical care, called The Fleetwood Northern Ireland Model. It took a wider look at care in a nursing home setting and the effect of direct intervention from pharmacists.

Their aim was to evaluate the effect of its introduction on the number of residents who were receiving inappropriate psychoactive medication.

The researchers found while the model led to a significant decrease in the number of residents receiving inappropriate psychoactive medication, levels were still high.

Lead Fleetwood NI Model researcher Susan Patterson said: "Pharmacists are the experts and they have a significant role to play in terms of finding and championing innovations that reduce risks for patients.

"The Fleetwood NI project has demonstrated that pharmacist intervention can reduce medication risks for nursing home residents and improve the quality of prescribing."

Mr Anderson added: "Pharmacy-led medicines reviews are all part of delivering a new kind of health service."

Originally published by EMILY MOULTON [email protected]

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