Overcoming the Challenges of Medication Safety During Care Transitions

Care transitions are one of the times when a resident’s risk of potential medication errors significantly increase. An estimated 80 percent of medical errors occur during the transition between medical providers. Of those errors, 40 percent involve medications, and 20 percent result in harm to the resident. The challenges to medication safety during care transitions must be identified and overcome for the sake of residents and their overall quality of care. The following are some primary areas in which to begin. [Tweet “Overcoming the challenges of #medicationsafety during care transitions. #longtermcarepharmacy”]

Better Communication for Medication Safety

Communication breakdowns, or miscommunication, can be one of the biggest challenges that affect medication safety during care transitions. And yet, knowing this is true, extra care should be taken during this pivotal time to communicate everything necessary regarding medications to all involved parties. Healthcare providers must have a system of regular communication so that the needs of incoming SNF residents can be prepared for ahead of their transition. At least 24 hours is usually required to facilitate special equipment or monitoring needs. Moreover, every time the slightest change is made to a resident’s care plan, especially regarding medications, this change should be communicated to all involved parties, including the resident and his or her family support team. Ideally, a provider team member will be charged with the responsibility of managing medication safety and the communication of a resident’s care plan to all involved parties.

Current Information for Medication Safety

Healthcare providers and care facilities must strive to ensure each has up-to-date data on each resident for medication safety. Conflicting, outdated, or inaccurate information can result in serious harm to the resident, especially when concerning medications that have since been discontinued or replaced. Electronic data that is synchronized across every involved healthcare provider can go far to maintain up-to-date resident information that is immediately accessible. This can keep discrepancies from arising in resident care, as well as limit lost time when access to a provider is not immediately available.

Resident-centered Discharge Planning for Medication Safety

Serious miscommunications during care transitions occur when the resident is unclear or confused about the decisions made for his or her health. Resident-centered discharge planning and education about medication safety that involves the entire patient support system will ensure that residents and families are informed and in agreement with medical decisions. This may necessitate performing a literary assessment with the resident to ascertain his or her level of understanding before communicating any medical information. Using terminology and phrasing that a resident understands breeds confidence in the medical team and their decisions for care.

Patient Support System Involvement for Medication Safety

A resident’s patient support system can be an invaluable asset to involve with care transitions, especially when striving to ensure medication safety. Family members who are actively involved are more likely to have a positive impact on the resident’s overall health outcomes. These family members must be taught their roles and the importance of their part in medication safety and overall care. Always try to provide printed resources for the patient support team to keep for later reference, especially concerning their loved one’s medications. Transitions of care can be confusing and difficult times for providers, staff, residents, and families, especially regarding medication safety. That’s why it is important to have effective communication, accurate information, patient-centered education, and patient support system involvement during transitions. A proactive approach to medication safety during transitions can help providers and staff facilitate safe and smooth care transitions. The Grane Rx team works with Skilled Nursing Facilities to design and implement medication safety and care transition processes. Could your SNF benefit? Call (866) 824-MEDS (6337) to find out more. ]]>

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