Avoid Medication Management Errors

The CQC has criticised a care home after service users were left in pain when the home ran out of essential medication. Staff at Lindridge on Laburnum Avenue in Hove blamed over-reliance on agency nurses for the lapses in medication management but the home received its third consecutive ‘requires improvement’ rating from the inspectorate as a result of its shortfalls.

Feedback from the CQC on medication management stated, “People were not always supported to receive their medicines when they needed them” and also stated that the systems in place hadn’t always ensured that there were sufficient medicines in stock in order to meet the needs of service users. Staff confirmed that there had been situations where medication had run out and the home’s records confirmed that some pain relief medication had not been offered as a result of it being unavailable.

Read on and find out how to safeguard both your service users and your reputation by preventing this type of medication management error in your care home.

Medication Management Errors

CQC found that Lindgridge’s staffing levels were consistently good but noted that there was a “high percentage of agency staff being used to cover shifts” with one member of staff quoted as saying “Everyone who gives the medicine should check and report it when tablets are low. Because there is lots of agency staff, this doesn’t always happen.” In situations like this, no matter how competent a care home’s staff are, the home’s systems are only as good as its weakest link; in this case the temporary agency staff.

4 Steps to Avoid Medication Management Errors from Agency Staff 

  1. Check training: Do you actually know what sort of medication management training the staff provided by your agency receive? If not, ask them to provide details and ensure that you have a record of this on the agency worker profile that they’re legally obliged to provide to you. All agency workers administering medication should have appropriate training and have been assessed as competent in this area within the last 12 months.
  2. Provide induction: Just because an agency worker has been signed off as competent in the principles of medication management and administration, it doesn’t mean they’ll be familiar with your in-house policies and practices. Always ensure that every new member of agency staff visiting your care home receives an induction in this area before commencing their first medication round.
  3. Operate clearly understood systems: Having simple and transparent systems for commonly occurring problems, such as medication levels running low, will help to prevent these problems occurring. For example, if you know that it normally takes 3 days to obtain medication supplies from your pharmacy, ensure that all staff know to take action when only 3 days medication remains, rather than waiting until the last tablet has been used.
  4. Plan ahead: Weekends and Bank Holidays are the time when problems with stock levels are most likely to occur so plan ahead to make sure any low stock items are ordered well in advance. Holding details of out of hours pharmacies can also help to access essential supplies outside of office hours.

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