Medication review technique may help identify drug-related problems in the elderly

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

Elderly adults experience more drug-related problems, because they are more likely than younger persons to take multiple prescription and over-the-counter medications. Pharmacists need effective ways to identify medication errors in this patient population so that adverse consequences, such as hospital admission and death, can be avoided. This is particularly true for enrollees in the Medicare part D prescription drug program, which requires medication therapy management for those with high usage rates. A new technique called TIMER (Tool to Improve Medications in the Elderly via Review) may help pharmacists identify more drug-related problems in the elderly, suggests a new study. TIMER is a systemic approach to conducting medication reviews that is evidence-based and offers advice for medication management.

In a recent study, 87 pharmacists and 108 third-year pharmacy students received hypothetical geriatric patient cases for review. Each case was specifically created by experts for the study and contained a number of drug-related problems, some of which could be identified by using TIMER. The pharmacists were asked to review one case, with half randomized to receive the TIMER tool for use. Pharmacy students were asked to review two cases, one with TIMER and the other without.

By using TIMER, pharmacists were able to identify more drug-related problems (3.4) compared to not using it (3.0). Pharmacy students were able to identify an average of 3.30 drug-related problems using the TIMER tool compared with only 2.96 when TIMER was not used. Although training was not part of the study, providing such educational programs on TIMER may help pharmacists and students embrace using the tool to conduct their medication reviews, note the researchers.

Their study was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16094) to the University of Iowa's Older Adults Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERT). For more information on the CERTs program, visit the Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Web site.

See "Pharmacists' and pharmacy students' ability to identify drug-related problems using TIMER (Tool to Improve Medications in the Elderly via Review)", by Sarah Snyder Lee, Pharm.D., Ann K. Schwemm, Pharm.D., Jeffrey Reist, Pharm.D., and others in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 73(3), pp. 1-10, 2009.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Medication review technique may help identify drug-related problems in the elderly: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.