Residential Care and Assisted Living Compendium: 2007. Medication Administration

11/30/2007

As facilities are allowed to serve residents with greater needs, regulators have cited medication administration and assistance with self-medication as a major concern. A study cited in a literature review on medication use in assisted living found that residents were prescribed an average of 4.6 medications per month; 37 percent took four to seven medications a month; and 11 percent took eight or more.17 Comparing prescriptions to the “Beers List,” the study found that 25 percent of the residents had inappropriate medication orders.18 Another study cited found that 11 percent of residents were taking two or more psychotropic medications and 70 percent were taking psychotropic agents without receiving mental health services. The literature review found that there was substantial use of medications considered inappropriate for use by elderly persons; widespread use of psychotropic medications; under-treatment of depression; and use of medications with undocumented diagnosis or reason for use.

Several states noted that its licensing agency is paying more attention to medication issues as the acuity level increases and more residents are taking increasing numbers of medications. States that did not previously track the prevalence of medication issues are now doing so.

Interviews with state contacts for the 2002 Compendium asked whether states allowed trained aides to administer medications or to assist with self-administration of medications. Of the responding states, 98 percent allow trained aides to assist with self-administration, and 63 percent allow aides who have completed and passed a training program to administer medications. Thirteen percent of responding states require facilities to have a consulting pharmacist. Several states require record reviews of medications by a RN.

States are addressing problems with medication administration by offering additional training, enacting changes to nurse delegation provisions, and tracking medication issues on survey reports. A few states indicated that problems with medication administration are consistently among the top eight or ten deficiencies and a few reported it was the most frequently cited deficiency. On the other hand, states reported that deficiencies and problems decreased after the licensing agency offered more training on medication administration to administrators, supervisory and direct care staff.


  1. Thomas Clark, Director of Professional Affairs for the American Society of Consulting Pharmacists Medication Use and Pharmacist Impact in Assisted Living Facilities, located at http://www.ascp.com/public/pr/assisted/2003/rximpact.pdf.

  2. The Beer’s List identifies medications to avoid or use within specified dose and duration ranges for elderly persons, as well as medications to avoid in elderly persons with specific diseases.

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