Another drug error at home for elderly

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 July, 2006, 12:00am

Concerns have been raised over the safety of drug dispensing at private homes for the elderly after a patient was wrongly prescribed a drug for diabetes, the third incident in less than a year.

The latest incident was referred to the Hospital Authority last month, according to Kathy Ng Ma Kam-han, assistant director for the elderly at the Social Welfare Department.

Mrs Ng said it was the third case since August last year involving homes for the elderly prescribing drugs for diabetes to non-diabetic patients.

She said all three cases involved different private homes, and all three patients recovered after being admitted to hospital.

The department issued warning letters to the three homes but refused to identify them. It said that it issued guidelines in April regarding drug management. The guidelines include instructions on how workers should record drug intake.

Mrs Ng said the department commissioned the Hospital Authority to provide training for registered nurses this year to meet the homes urgent demand for qualified medical staff. An estimated 220 nurses would be trained in two years' time.

Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who represents the welfare sector, accused the department of failing to prevent such blunders.

'It is no use simply issuing the guidelines,' he said. 'There should be mandatory requirements for elderly homes to hire full-time workers to manage the drugs.'