Overall, just 6% of Australian aged care facilities reviewed more than 50% of new residents’ medication programs.
Lead researcher, Dr Janet Sluggett (pictured above, giving evidence to the Royal Commission last year) from the University of South Australia, said aged care residents may take up to 10 medications a day on average, which could include high risk drugs such as opioids, insulin, blood thinners and antipsychotics.
‘’We’ve seen a sharp increase in the use of these medicines that when used incorrectly, can cause side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, falls and hospital visits,’’ she said.
When under review, a doctor will assess all prescribed medications before making any recommendations for improvement.
Currently, a resident is given a medication review upon entry into an aged care facility but regular reviews aren’t mandatory.
Residents now receive two follow-up pharmacist visits
It is worth noting that the data is not recent.
Some changes have already been made to the medication review system after the Aged Care Royal Commission put a spotlight on the need to address its shortcomings.
‘’People who receive a medication review can now get an extra two follow-up visits from a pharmacist and a variety of doctors can refer a resident for the service,” Dr Sluggett said.
Medication reviews are free for residents if they receive a referral letter from their pharmacist or GP.