Reducing Home Medication Errors

by Eric Corum

reducing home medication errors

A Review of the Phillips Medication Dispensing Service

Watching your parents grow old is at times a difficult experience. With an increase in hospital admissions comes an inevitable increase in prescribed medication, each with their own instructions and array of side effects. When this medication is not taken correctly the consequences can be dire. And while the quality of nursing homes improves each year, the choice to move a loved one into such a facility is daunting, to say the least.

Fortunately, advances in modern day technology are allowing the elderly to maintain a sense of independence beyond their early physical limitations. The Phillips Medication Dispensing Service (PMD) is one such tool, which, when combined with occasional in-home care, goes a long way in creating peace of mind for both you and your parents.

Home Medication Errors

Elderly patients – aged 65 and older – take an average of 2-6 medications at any one time.(1) This number may increase with each hospitalization and when multiple health practitioners are consulted.(2) In such cases, home medication errors are estimated at nearly 40%.(3) With the consequence including a deterioration of overall health, hospitalization, and even death, home medication errors is a problem that should not be taken lightly.(4)

A study by Malhotra et al showed that a common cause of nonadherence (not taking ones medications appropriately) in the elderly is simply forgetfulness. This increased with the number of pills prescribed and the complexity of instructions given.(5) Although a decline in cognitive function is expected in the elderly, many studies indicate that at home interventions are effective in decreasing home medication errors and the adverse health consequences thereof.(6)

Medication Dispensing System

Pill organizers have proven to increase adherence in elderly patients on chronic medication.(7) In reviewing a number of medication dispensing systems, the Phillips Medication Dispensing Service (PMD) has come out on top each time. It is a welcomed extension of the Phillips Lifeline medical alert system which allows elderly individuals to safely live in the comfort of their home.
The PMD System is an electronic medication dispenser which is programmed to alarm at the time your loved one needs to take their treatment. The simple push of a button will stop the alarm and dispense a cup containing the pills. The alarm will ring every minute for 9 minutes until the button is pressed, ensuring that a quick trip to the loo does not result in a missed dose.

The reason this tool is so effective is the way in which it is programmed to contact a caregiver or family member, allowing you to monitor your parent without infringing on their sense of independence. The 24-hour monitoring will inform a caregiver or family member in the case of:

• a missed dose
• dispensing errors
• a power outage
• low supply of treatment, three days in advance

The call center offers assistance in setting up the PMD system. It is easily preloaded with up to 40 days of pills, and also allows for the dispensing of medication that must be taken ‘as required’, such as cardiac treatment that is only used when specific symptoms are felt.

The Phillips Medication Dispensing Service is an incredibly self-empowering tool for those years when physical and cognitive limitations start to creep in. The impact of which can not be underestimated for a parent who is still able to enjoy their independence with a little assistance and monitoring.

Complete Peace of Mind

To supplement the use of a medication dispensing system, occasional in-home senior care is the ultimate in maintaining one’s peace of mind. As the elderly population continues to grow at a remarkable rate, so too are the resources available to take care of your loved ones in the comfort of their home.

The Helper Bees are a community of individuals qualified to provide the best in-home care for senior citizens. From grocery shopping to grooming, the specific needs of your loved one are matched with the experience of a helper in your area. Each helper is screened and hand-picked to ensure a high quality of service. You get to review the profiles and connect directly with the helper of your choice. The number of hours worked and pay is determined by the needs of your loved one and the helper you select.

When considering the dire complications associated with home medication errors, one can not underestimate the importance of a medication dispensing system and occasional in-home care. And with the ease of online purchasing, there is really no need to subject yourself to another day of anxiety over the well-being of those you hold dear. Get started now by contacting The Helper Bees to set you up with a PMD and to find the best Helper Bee in your area.

Article authored by Zoë Thring, a medical doctor turned healthcare blogger. Her goal is make health care related information easily accessible, and to remind the world that, “Your health is in your hands.”

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[Please note, AMA style is used and links are included for the purpose of linking a statistic directly to the relevant article.]

1. Stewart RCooper J. Polypharmacy in the Aged. Drugs & Aging. 1994;4(6):449-461. doi:10.2165/00002512-199404060-00002.
[PubMed: 8075473]

2. Hajjar E, Cafiero A, Hanlon J. Polypharmacy in Elderly Patients. The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. 2007;5(4):345-351. doi:10.1016/j.amjopharm.2007.12.002.
[PubMed: 18179993]

3. Montiel-Luque A, Núñez-Montenegro A, Martín-Aurioles E, García-Dillana F, Toro-Toro M, González-Correa J. Prevalence and Related Factors of Ineffective Self-Health Management in Polymedicated Patients Over the Age of 65 Years. International Journal of Nursing Knowledge. 2016. doi:10.1111/2047-3095.12155.
[PubMed: 27651004]

4. Banning M. Older people and adherence with medication: A review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2008;45(10):1550-1561. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.02.009.
[PubMed: 18395727]

5. Malhotra S, Karan R, Pandhi P, Jain S. Drug Related Medical Emergencies in the Elderly: Role of Adverse Drug Reactions and Non-Compliance. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2001;77(913):703-707. doi:10.1136/pmj.77.913.703.
[PubMed: 11677279]

6. Feldman P, Totten A, Foust J et al. Medication Management. 3rd ed. New York: VNSNY Center for Home Care Policy & Research; 2009:4. Available at: Accessed September 24, 2016.

7. Reeder B, Demiris G, Marek K. Older adults’ satisfaction with a medication dispensing device in home care. Informatics for Health and Social Care. 2013;38(3):211-222. doi:10.3109/17538157.2012.741084.
[PubMed: 23323721]

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