Drug delivery formats affect nursing home medication errors, study finds

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Nursing home residents are four times as likely to receive an improper dosage of a medication if it is administered in a liquid format than as a pill or tablet. Other delivery formats, such as transdermal patches, injectables and inhalers, were also more problematic compared to tablets and pills, new study results from the United Kingdom show.

Using data from a previous investigation, researchers studied 55 nursing homes and found that errors with liquid preparations often resulted from not shaking the suspension thoroughly enough. Researchers wrote that pill and tablet formats resulted in fewer errors because they are dispensed using a monitored dosing system. Such systems cannot be used with liquid preparations.

The investigators, who are associated with the University of Leeds used a random sample of 233 patients in 55 homes, including 30 residential and 25 nursing homes. The results were published online in BMJ Quality and Safety.