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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 25 October 2020

Seven out of ten nursing home residents given 'inappropriate' medicine

Cross-border research team uncovers potentially inappropriate prescribing processes.

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Image: PA Images/John Birdsall

A TEAM OF clinical pharmacists have found that seven out of ten Irish people in nursing homes are being prescribed at least one medicine that might be inappropriate to them.

Half of the 630 older patients surveyed were receiving between eight to 14 different medicines daily. (The sample of nursing home residents was taken from Northern Ireland and the Cork area).

The research, funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), found that of the nursing homes surveyed in the Republic, 73 per cent of residents there were receiving at least one potentially inappropriate medicine. That figure was 67 per cent of residents in the nursing homes surveyed in Northern Ireland.

Dr Stephen Byrne of UCC, who led the research team, said potentially inappropriate prescribing “can lead to both minor and serious adverse drug events for older people”. He added:

One of the most common instances is the risk of falls an fractures, leading to extended hospitalisation. Tomorrow is World Health Day and the administrations in Ireland, North and South, could make a valuable constribution by announcing decisive action to reduce potentially inappropriate prescribing.

Some of these measures could included a “protocol-driven medication review” system which would have pharmacists, GPs, consultants and nurses consult with each other, the patient and their relatives to make sure the patient gets the correct drugs.

Other statistics in the research include:

  • Older people in the Republic of Ireland use four times more medicine than other age groups. Elsewhere in Europe older age groups take 2.3 times more than other age groups.
  • The average number of different medicines prescribed for older people in nursing homes every day is 11. Half of the residents surveyed were taking between eight and 14 medicines each daily.
  • The cost of inappropriately prescribed medicines for the 630 residents surveyed, in NI and RoI, was €165,513 per annum.
  • The researchers estimate that the number of prescription in the Republic will double from 55 million in 2006 to 110 million by 2021.

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