Debi Bhattacharya

In an odd twist of logic, seniors risk falls, sickness and even hospitalization when they switch to using a pill organizer, McKnight’s has reported. Now, the British pharmacists who discovered the problem have released a guide on who should and shouldn’t use these handy sorters.

Residents who are already using a pill sorter with no problems should continue to do so; it’s the switching stage that appears to pose a danger, said Debi Bhattacharya, Ph.D., BPharm, of the University of East Anglia, one of the authors.

A pill sorter should not be recommended when: 

  • The resident has an emotional barrier, such as anxiety about the medication or lack of confidence. Better solutions include identifying social support, providing information on medication benefits and goals or even stopping the medication.
  • The resident has a practical barrier, such as impaired manual dexterity, vision or memory. In these cases, solutions could range from providing easy-open bottles, using color-coded bottles or helping the patient develop routines and reminders.

In addition, when a resident is switching from usual packaging to a pill organizer, “we recommend that patients speak to their GP or pharmacist to check that the doses of their medication are appropriate,” Bhattacharya said.

The new guidance includes additional information, and is available as part of a set of Medication Compliance Aids through the University of East Anglia.