Evaluation of a hybrid paper-electronic medication management system at a residential aged care facility

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Abstract

Objectives The aims of the study were to investigate discrepancies between general practitioners' paper medication orders and pharmacy-prepared electronic medication administration charts, back-up paper charts and dose-administration aids, as well as delays between prescribing, charting and administration, at a 90-bed residential aged care facility that used a hybrid paper-electronic medication management system. Methods A cross-sectional audit of medication orders, medication charts and dose-administration aids was performed to identify discrepancies. In addition, a retrospective audit was performed of delays between prescribing and availability of an updated electronic medication administration chart. Medication administration records were reviewed retrospectively to determine whether discrepancies and delays led to medication administration errors. Results Medication records for 88 residents (mean age 86 years) were audited. Residents were prescribed a median of eight regular medicines (interquartile range 5-12). One hundred and twenty-five discrepancies were identified. Forty-seven discrepancies, affecting 21 (24%) residents, led to a medication administration error. The most common discrepancies were medicine omission (44.0%) and extra medicine (19.2%). Delays from when medicines were prescribed to when they appeared on the electronic medication administration chart ranged from 18min to 98h. On nine occasions (for 10% of residents) the delay contributed to missed doses, usually antibiotics. Conclusion Medication discrepancies and delays were common. Improved systems for managing medication orders and charts are needed. What is known about the topic? Hybrid paper-electronic medication management systems, in which prescribers' orders are transcribed into an electronic system by pharmacy technicians and pharmacists to create medication administration charts, are increasingly replacing paper-based medication management systems in Australian residential aged care facilities. The accuracy and safety of these systems has not been studied. What does this paper add? The present study identified discrepancies between general practitioners' orders and pharmacy-prepared electronic medication administration charts, back-up paper medication charts and dose-administration aids, as well as delays between ordering, charting and administering medicines. Discrepancies and delays sometimes led to medication administration errors. What are the implications for practitioners? Facilities that use hybrid systems need to implement robust systems for communicating medication changes to their pharmacy and reconciling prescribers' orders against pharmacy-generated medication charts and dose-administration aids. Fully integrated, paperless medication management systems, in which prescribers' electronic medication orders directly populate an electronic medication administration chart and are automatically communicated to the facility's pharmacy, could improve patient safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-250
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Health Review
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • drug prescriptions
  • medication errors

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