Why home-nursing services need pharmacist support

Study finds issues with 73% of patients

Integrating pharmacists into home-nursing services could help reduce medication errors, Australian researchers have found.

pharmacist support

Concerned that only 5% of home-nursing patients receive a Home Medication Review (HMR), researchers from Monash and Melbourne Universities decided to pilot a visiting pharmacist program.

Two part-time pharmacists were employed to help manage medication issues for patients of a home-nursing service.

Over 15 months they reviewed 84 elderly patients and identified 334 medication-related problems, the researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

After making recommendations to prescribers, medication changes were made for 60 patients, with a median of two changes per patient.

The visiting pharmacists also picked up discrepancies in treatment authorisations for nearly 73% of the patients.

The pharmacists were employed for 12 hours a week to visit at-risk patients referred by nurses.

Typically, patients were those taking eight or more medications, had been recently hospitalised or were taking high-risk medications such as warfarin.

According to the researchers, theirs is the first study to quantify medication issues for at-risk home nursing and test a visiting pharmacist service.

The model has the potential to optimise medication use although future research is needed to examine the impact on clinical and economic outcomes, they conclude.

Read the full study here