Study of at-home medication errors gains grant - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Study of at-home medication errors gains grant

15 Jun 2016

A University of the Sunshine Coast-led research team has won a $20,000 USC/Wishlist Collaborative Research Grant to try to reduce the number of older adults being admitted to hospital after making mistakes when taking their medications at home.

The research involves USC Professor of Nursing Marianne Wallis and Lecturer in Nursing Dr Julie Hanson partnering with Nambour General Hospital doctors and pharmacists to explore the factors leading to medication errors in the homes of people aged over 65.

Dr Hanson said the USC/Wishlist grant study, due to start in coming months, would analyse how often people were admitted or readmitted, and the length of each hospital stay.

“Many people know the challenges that their elderly parents face when taking multiple medications at home,” she said.

“It is not just the number of medications, or understanding what each one is for, but also the way that some medications have to be taken that can prove difficult.

“Making errors can result in high personal cost to patients and their families, and high cost to health systems. A major risk is that older people will be discharged to residential care facilities and never return to their own homes.”

The three Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service researchers involved in the project are Associate Professor Steven Coverdale (UQ), Dr Arif Manji (UQ) and Dr Bernadette Morris-Smith, a practising pharmacist who also works at USC.

Professor Wallis said the team hoped to use the information collected to plan innovative interventions to prevent medication error in the community.

“Adverse drug events (ADEs) in older adults are a leading cause of emergency department visits, hospital admissions and readmissions,” she said. “In Australia, ADEs are five times higher in older adults than younger adults.

“The impact of an ageing population is felt earlier and more profoundly in fast-growing coastal communities, and on the Sunshine Coast older adults comprise 18 percent of the population compared with 14 percent nationally.

“Our study will use a retrospective chart audit to collect demographic, clinical and admission history data, as well as medication regime factors contributing to medication errors.

“The findings will build on current good practice and guide innovation in discharge planning within a multidisciplinary team model.”

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe said the project exemplified the importance of Wishlist’s growing commitment to local research projects, this year totalling $422,245.

“Through the USC/Wishlist collaborative research grants we together add to a pool of more than $1.5million granted to research projects within the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service this year, which all helps to position the Sunshine Coast as a centre for research excellence and potentially draw specialists from all over the world to our region,” she said.

“This project will work towards establishing better practice to help prevent the human error so frequently responsible for hospital admissions for our elderly.”

— Julie Schomberg

USC Lecturer in Nursing Dr Julie Hanson handling medications in a USC Nursing Laboratory on campus at Sippy Downs.

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