Home Health & Hospice

Insider's Scoop | Medication management

Homecare Insider, September 28, 2015

Editor’s note: This week’s Insider’s Scoop is adapted from one of HCPro’s newest home health titles, Quality Care in Home Health: Improving Patient Outcomes and Agency Scores, written by J’non Griffin, RN, MHA, WCC, HCS-D, COS-C. The complete resources provides home health agencies with the tools and tactics they need to produce positive outcomes for their patients, achieve ongoing operational success, and see high star counts on Home Health Compare. For more information or to order, call customer service at 800-650-6787 or visit www.hcmarketplace.com

Managing medications in the home can be a challenging process. The following list comprises tailored tips for combatting some of the most common problems associated with medication administration and compliance, arranged by issue type. For even more medication management strategies, coupled with broader approaches to performance improvement, buy Quality Care in Home Health: Improving Patient Outcomes and Agency Scores today.  
People who have trouble swallowing. People who struggle to swallow a capsule or tablet may try instead to chew, crush, or mix it with food or drink. However, some medications are long acting and may get released too quickly if they are not swallowed as ordered. In addition, failure to follow intake instructions may result in the destruction of the protective coating on the medication, causing gastrointestinal irritation. Finally, cutting pills that aren’t scored may also compromise the integrity of the medication. Instead of allowing patients to adopt these homegrown approaches to overcoming swallowing difficulties, providers should consult their speech therapists to assess each affected patient’s specific set of swallowing issues, as well as consult with the individual’s pharmacist to see whether the drug is available in liquid form.
Medication costs. Those on a fixed income might be tempted to split pills in half to save money on prescription costs, which can diminish the effectiveness of the medication. Help these individuals find out whether they qualify for prescription assistance from the manufacturer, and consult the pharmacist for less expensive alternatives. If needed, make a social service referral.
Duplicate drug therapy. Duplicate drug therapy can occur if a patient forgets whether he or she has taken a dose of medication and takes another just in case—a practice that can threaten the individual’s health, especially if it becomes a frequent event. To curb fallout from these memory lapses, encourage patients—including those who independently prefill medications—to use a pillbox with appropriate slots to better track intake.