Using an EHR to reduce medication errors in LTC

A recent presentation at the 2014 American Geriatrics Society annual scientific meeting emphasizes that while many LTC facilities still use paper documentation, the proper use of an electronic health record can significantly reduce medication errors.

The presentation cited a quality improvement project undertaken by Thomas Caprio, MD, MPH, Timothy Holahan, DO, and Joseph Nicholas, MD, MPH, at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. This team of researchers initially compared medications listed in the EHRs of 79 residents on two LTC units with the facility's pharmacy medication list, according to a summary written about the meeting presentation.

Of the 79 residents, 75 (95%) showed medication discrepancies. Upon a closer look, the researchers discovered that 371 discrepancies involved scheduled medications, while 224 involved "other medications" such as those labeled "as needed" or those of a topical nature. 

After the staff members were trained on the proper use of the EHR and after the implementation of a weekly medication review procedure, scheduled medication discrepancies on one LTC unit dropped from 250 to 55, while other medication discrepancies fell from 118 to 63.

This research brings to light the importance of regular medication reviews as well as proper documentation of medication regimens and close attention to polypharmacy for residents within long-term care settings.

To learn more, read the meeting coverage of this presentation.

Topics: Technology & IT