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How the introduction of new technology has improved patient safety

Claire Buckle, Manager at Coach House Care Home for the Elderly, discusses how the introduction of new technology has improved patient safety within their care home

Care home residents take on average 7.2 medicines per day and with each additional medicine comes an increased risk of errors when prescribing, monitoring and administering to residents. Reports show that 70% of care home residents have experienced at least one error in their medication regime. Recently Coach House Care Home for the Elderly introduced new technology to tackle this serious issue and improve the safety of their residents. 

In February 2017 Coach House had a CQC inspection which revealed gaps within our medication administration records and worryingly inspectors witnessed one resident receiving the wrong dosage of medication because it had actually been intended for another resident. The report also revealed that:

Medication audits by the home had not identified any of the concerns found during the inspection by the CQC.

Medicines were not safely stored and administered.

Notes of missed medications were not routinely recorded on the back of the MAR.How the introduction of new technology has improved patient safety

PRN (as required) medicines were not given routinely and there was no guidance to help staff understand in which circumstance they should be offered.

Care and treatment was not provided in a safe way for people using the service because there was no safe management of medicines. 

We decided to implement Omnicell eMAR as a simple solution to ensure that our residents were taking the right medication and dose at the right time as well as to address all the issues found within the CQC report. The eMAR system gathers information, provides prompts and accurate instructions for staff.  It also gives managers real-time medication administration data at the touch of a button. 

Each individual medication is identified through a barcode applied in the pharmacy. Medication can then be tracked at all stages from check-in at the care home or administration to the resident, to unused items that are disposed of or returned to the pharmacy. The system uses on-screen photograph identification and provides an important medical history for each resident. This includes a simple alert and verification system to minimise the risk of making medication administration errors in the home. Each of our staff members has their own log-in details which enables robust auditing. 

We are really pleased with the system and the risk of human error during medication administration has been taken away since implementation. The system prompts you and tells you exactly when the resident had their last dose of medication, removing the risk of overdose. It times the rounds to ensure people get their medicines at the correct time intervals and confirms that all the medicines have been dispensed at the end of the round. The system will also inform you of any safety issues involved with the medicine being administered.  There have been no incidents of missed medication or errors since implementation.

The audit trail is now much clearer as we no longer rely on a paper-based system.  In the event of discrepancies we can see straight away what has happened and why it occurred. Stock counts are also much more accurate and completed more quickly.

Staff are much more confident when administering medication to our residents.  They make sure all patients have correctly taken their medication before signing it off in the medication register. As soon as the system was installed our staff received thorough training and the team at Omnicell were incredibly helpful. One member of staff said “It’s [eMAR has]been brilliant, we all support each other but we also have someone we can speak to on the end of the phone, they have been so helpful.”

After installing the system we had another CQC inspection in November 2017 and were delighted to see the difference eMAR had made on our feedback from the commissioning review. Medicines are now administered and stored safely, meeting legal requirements. 

We are amazed by how well the system works and don’t know why we didn’t install it sooner. Technology is imperative to bring the care service into the 21stcentury to protect residents and staff from the risk of medication errors. 

Omnicell is once again this year implementing a SAFE (safeguarding against frontline errors) campaign amongst key opinion leaders within secondary care, care home and pharmacy settings in order to raise awareness of the impact of medication errors. The campaign aims to drive change and understanding the role of technology in tackling the problem.  Show your support by using the hashtag: #BanishMedErrors or visit for more information.



August LTD
Grahame Gardner
Mr Trax Curtain & Blind Solutions
Inspired Inspirations
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