Researchers find medication errors happen to 1 in 10 residents

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Researchers have found that each month about 1 in 10 nursing home residents suffers a medication-related injury.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who studied drug-related complications at two large nursing homes affiliated with major medical centers found the rate of injury was about 10 per month for every 100 nursing home residents, with a total of 815 injuries, including four deaths. The investigation took place over nine months in 2000 and 2001 in Connecticut and Ontario.

The research was conducted as part of a follow-up to research conducted in 18 smaller nursing homes in Massachusetts four years earlier. The injury rates found in the most recent study are five times the numbers previously identified, according to lead researcher Dr. Jerry Gurwitz of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"If this is going on in these types of top-flight facilities ... it's without question happening more in community-based facilities," said Gurwitz. "This makes for a compelling argument for the use of information technology and management systems that can improve communications and decision-making among physicians, nurses and staff, to prevent these kinds of events."

Study results were published in the American Journal of Medicine.

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