Medication management for seniors and those in long-term care can be a struggle for many facilities. With so many patients, limited staff and multiple rounds of medications daily, it can be difficult to keep track of each patient’s specific needs. In fact, nearly 30% of elders take five or more prescription medications each day, which has contributed to medication nonadherence, according to a study published in the scientific journal Health Education Research. And a study in BMC Nursing found mistakes in medication management were commonly a result of human shortcomings and deficiencies in working conditions, such as staffing and systems. So, what can be done to ensure patient safety and cut down on human error?
Louis & Clark Pharmacy in Massachusetts is helping to revolutionize the medication management system within long-term care, group homes, memory care and senior living facilities with their MediBubble solution. A prepackaged, presorted solution is created weekly for each patient that lays out their medications in perforated bubbles marked with the day of the week and the time of day the medication should be taken. Each MediBubble package features the patient’s information, along with a detailed description of each medication. Each perforated pocket can easily be torn off and given to the patient, eliminating the need for staff to physically handle the pills, which leads to a more hygienic experience.
Louis & Clark also coordinates prescriptions and refills directly with doctors and can deliver the medications directly to the facility. For singular medications, the pharmacy also offers blister packs. Ideal for single-dose medication management, these monthly pill packs are designed especially for residents in group homes, but can be used by anyone. This tamper-resistant, MAP-compliant packaging makes it clear if a patient has received their medication. Staff or family don’t have to presort medications into a pill box every week.
While MediBubble is an incredible solution for those with more complex medication regimens, Louis & Clark also has a high-tech solution for filling traditional vials. Parata Max 2 is a high-speed, vial-filling robot. According to the manufacturer’s website, the Max 2 employs the next generation of vial dispensing technology.
Using barcoding on both the inventory bottle and dispensing cell, the robot verifies a match, ensuring that an accurate drug and total dosage are put into each vial. A unique feature of the Max 2 is its camera and pinch-to-zoom functionality. This allows pharmacists to view and enlarge images of every vial prior to capping.
Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States are harmed from prescription drug medication errors every year, and it is estimated that more than half of those happen in nursing homes. Louis & Clark is hoping to help reduce those errors through their MediBubble and blister packs, making it easier to manage multiple medications.
Kara James is co-owner and president of Louis & Clark Pharmacy.