Polypharmacy

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Problematic polypharmacy – when an individual's multi-medication regime is not providing the intended benefit – can lead to adverse drug reactions and reduced quality of life. 

The average older person admitted to hospital is prescribed 13 medicines and adherence is also poor resulting in significant waste of resources. Problematic polypharmacy is both a quality and patient safety issue. 

In August 2016, KSS AHSN launched a six-month pilot in Brighton and Hove to reduce levels of problematic polypharmacy in people aged 65 and over, supported by an engaged multispecialty project board. 

The project funded a pharmacist and pharmacy technician to perform Level 3 (holistic face to-face) medication reviews for patients at risk of medication related harm in care homes and their own homes. 

It showed that this approach can prevent hospital admissions, offers savings to Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) prescribing budgets, and is well received by patients and carers. 

We are now using the findings to inform Phase 2, working with 5 local CCGs and 1 acute trust to perform Level 3 medication reviews in care homes.  At the end of Phase 2 we'll produce a toolkit that organisations can use to implement similar projects locally. 

In addition to the Polypharmacy in Care Homes Project the KSS AHSN team are supporting evaluation of local work in Bexhill on sea which is focusing on stopping over medication of people with learning disability, autism or both (STOMP).  This is a national programme and is about helping people to stay well and have a good quality of life. 

  • For more information on this programme of work please contact Lisa Devine, Programme Manager lisa.devine5@nhs.net

Further reading

KSS AHSN Polypharmacy pilot - Brighton and Hove