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Nursing home medication management: what’s wrong and how to fix it

Polaris Group Profile
Polaris Group
August 15, 2022
March 14, 2023
Polaris Group Profile
Polaris Group
March 14, 2023

The new CMS surveyor guidance beginning in October stresses medication management and gradual dose reduction.

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The statistics are grim: as many as 40% of nursing home residents are prescribed at least one inappropriate medication. And in a recently released research study from June 2022, potentially inappropriate medications were present in 96% of residents at one particular nursing home.

In alignment with President Biden’s focus on improving nursing home safety, CMS has issued new surveyor guidance stressing the importance of addressing medication management and pharmacy services in surveys.

Medication management is a major source of liability for nursing homes

The use of inappropriate medications dramatically increases the risk for drug interactions, adverse health events, and poor health outcomes for residents. Facilities need also be concerned about inappropriate medication use because they affect 5 star ratings and resident/family satisfaction.

For this reason, a mock survey can help identify gaps or other areas of weakness, as well as provide recommendations for improvement opportunities. A mock survey combines a review of procedures, as well as direct observations of practice and process to ensure that those involved with medication management for residents is deficiency free.

How mock surveys can reduce deficiencies and avoid citations

Mock surveys from the Polaris Group can help you prepare for surveyor visits. In a mock survey visit, consultants identify risk areas and make recommendations to achieve compliance. Through this comprehensive process, consultants help identify issues and create the action plan on where and how to improve your medication management.

Medication management is an involved process: physician orders, pharmacy management, medication reconciliation, and medication distribution. As part of the mock survey, Polaris consultants provide the entire team with detailed feedback on issues to ensure that facilities have the operational, managerial, regulatory, and financial guidance to avoid citations and optimize resident care.

Importantly, mock surveys can occur both on-site and remotely to give your facility the flexibility to prepare in the ways that work best for you. Specific to nursing home pharmacy services, Polaris consultants will observe medication passes, review charts to evaluate for unnecessary medications under Ftag 757, as well as review nursing documentation on resident monitoring related to medication. Consultants can also ensure compliance with Ftag 758 and evaluate conformity to medication storage guidelines.

Using the same protocols, tasks, and quality indicators as surveyors, the Polaris consultants will prepare your facility best for your upcoming survey. Learn more about mock surveys here.

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