Bigger role for pharmacist boosts quality of care, safety in Saskatchewan nursing homes

    SASKATOON, March 29 /CNW/ - Involving pharmacists more closely in the
drug treatment of Saskatchewan seniors living in long-term care yields better,
safer care. That's the key finding from a year-long demonstration project
designed to measure the impact of giving pharmacists a bigger role on care
teams working in nursing homes. The initiative was led by the province's
Health Quality Council.
    In-depth reviews of client medications conducted as part of the project
identified an average of 2.5 drug-related problems for each senior. The most
common problem was that many residents were on drugs for which there was no
medically valid reason documented in their medical chart.
    Care teams made 792 recommendations in response to medication reviews.
Forty-three per cent (339) of the recommendations were to stop one or more
drugs, 26% (206) were to change dosage or interval, and 14% (112) were to
start a new drug. Physicians accepted most of the recommendations made by care
    As part of the project, an enhanced role for pharmacists included
spending time talking to residents and their families, participating in rounds
and providing in-service training, reviewing residents' medications and
discussing their findings with other members of the care team. Teams also
improved the medication reviews done when a senior first arrives at a nursing
home, and made changes to streamline record-keeping and the handling of drugs
in their facilities.
    Lisa Clatney, a researcher with HQC, says health professionals in the
demonstration sites found the new approach helpful in better managing seniors'
complex drug regimes. "Long-term care residents often have multiple health
conditions, so they're on several different medications," says Clatney. "The
providers working in these demonstration sites liked the team approach to drug
management and would like to see it continue."
    This demonstration project was started in response to a 2004 HQC report
which found many Saskatchewan seniors living in long-term care are on drugs
that increase their risk of dizziness, falls, and confusion. Research from
elsewhere shows that giving pharmacists a more active role improves care in
nursing homes and provides a great resource for other members of the care
team. HQC provided the participating long-term care homes with quality
improvement support and some funding to pay pharmacists for their increased
    A report on the demonstration project and the 2004 research report are
available on the Health Quality Council web site:

    The Health Quality Council (HQC) is an independent agency that measures
and reports on quality of care in Saskatchewan, promotes improvement, and
engages its partners in building a better health system.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interview, contact: Sheila
Ragush, Communications Consultant, (306) 668-8810 ext 113, 220-5075 (cell),

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