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Improve Medication Safety at Your Senior Living Community

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates nearly one third of the adult population takes five or more prescription medications. While these drugs can improve the quality of life for the people who need them, they also increase the risk of an adverse drug event (ADE). Each year, ADEs send 700,000 people to the emergency department and require 100,000 hospitalizations. In this post, you’ll get practical suggestions to reduce ADEs by improving medication safety in your senior living community.

Why the 5 “Rights” May Not Be Enough

Most caregivers are familiar with the Five Rights of Medication Safety, the foundation of safe medication administration practices. However, you should consider this concept a mere starting point for developing and improving the medication safety policy at your senior living community. To understand why, take a quick glance at the Five Rights here:

1. Right Resident

2. Right Medication

3. Right Dose

4. Right Route

5. Right Time

As you can see, the Five Rights of Medication Safety is essentially a list of broadly stated goals that care providers should strive to accomplish. Not only does it fail to offer practical guidelines for ensuring each component is achieved, it also focuses strictly on the individual performance of your caregivers. In reality, many factors beyond their control may prevent them from completing any or all of these medication administration checks.

Medication Safety Tips to Reduce Adverse Drug Events

If you really want to improve medication safety and reduce ADEs at your senior living community, you may need to define and implement actionable policies for all five of the medication administration checkpoints listed above. You’ll also need to educate your caregivers and hold them accountable for consistently observing the new procedures for every resident, every time. Here are our suggestions for better defining the Five Rights of Medication Safety within your community:

Right Resident

Right Medication

  • Carefully review the order
  • Confirm that the medication label matches the order

Right Dose

  • Verify the dose on the label matches the dose on the order
  • Use a current drug reference to confirm the appropriateness of the dose
  • If the dose seems unusual, ask another caregiver to evaluate

Right Route

  • Verify that the route of administration makes sense for the resident
  • Make sure the resident is physically able to ingest the medication as ordered

Right Time

  • Observe how often the medication is to be taken
  • If the dosage varies throughout the day, ensure you are administering the right dose at the right time
  • Confirm and document when each dose is given

You’re Not Done Until You Document

After the medication has been administered to the resident, caregivers should thoroughly document the time, dose, route and any other relevant information that could help inform future medical decisions. While this can be time consuming, accurate documentation helps your senior living facility deliver high quality, resident-centered care.

How Technology Streamlines Medication Administration

Advancements in technology can make medication administration and documentation more efficient for your senior living community. At MatrixCare, our CareAssist platform was designed to help you increase prescription accuracy and reduce medication errors while recording reliable documentation along the way.

Not only does our solution allow your caregivers the ability to manually confirm the five rights described above, but it allows you to take that verification to the next level using bar code scanning functionality. Using bar code scanning during medication administration, caregivers have the added assurance that they are providing the most safe and efficient care. It’s like having a second caregiver working alongside you.

In addition to electronic medication administration records (eMAR), CareAssist also provides convenient point-of-care functionality that integrates with resident service plans to automatically generate caregiver task lists.

To learn more about how our eMAR and point-of-care solutions can help your senior living community streamline workflows for improved efficiency, contact us today.

Kelly Keefe, RN
Kelly Keefe, RN

Kelly Keefe, RN has been in healthcare for nearly 20 years with leadership roles in nursing management, hospital administration, and information technology. In 2011, Kelly began her career in the EHR vendor market as a Product Manager, fueled by a desire to ensure that health care workers would have access to solutions that would meet the demands of a changing healthcare climate. Working as Product Manager, Kelly was responsible for ensuring that her products met all regulatory requirements, while maintaining focus on ease-of-use and workflow considerations for the end user. Kelly made the decision to come to MatrixCare as a Senior Living Solutions Product Manager based on the forward-thinking strategy of the organization. “I love that at MatrixCare we have a climate of progressiveness that allows us to be ahead of the game instead of chasing regulations. We are the ones creating the standards in the LTPAC market and I am proud to be a part of these important milestones in healthcare.”


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