Saskatchewan auditor finds over-medication of seniors

Dec 5, 2014

REGINA – Saskatchewan’s auditor says residents in some long-term care facilities face over-medication and are sometimes given the wrong medicine. Acting auditor Judy Ferguson says she has significant concerns about drug policies in the Heartland Regional Health Authority.

She said all seniors care residents in the west-central region were given at least one potentially inappropriate medication — and two-thirds of them received three or more.

“Those are medications that have a higher risk of an adverse effect on a senior,” she said in a report released Wednesday that looked at issues from health care to water security.

Ferguson’s report also said that 58 per cent of Heartland’s long-term care residents were receiving 13 or more daily medications.

“Anecdotally we’re hearing that other health regions may be facing similar issues. That’s why we really are encouraging them to have a look at what we found in Heartland,” she said.

Ferguson found that residents diagnosed with dementia received one or more anti-psychotic drugs, which act as sedatives.

Opposition Leader Cam Broten said medication mismanagement is another example of problems plaguing long-term care facilities in the province.

“This is troubling,” he said. “Instead of providing enough staff to help and manage patients and residents … we see an over-reliance on anti-psychotics.”

“The approach in the care homes is to drug them up, so that there is peace on the floor. But that’s not respectful. That’s not good care.”

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the Heartland region fully accepts the auditor’s recommendations.

“This is a very serious issue,” Duncan said. “They put together a working group.”

The auditor’s report also looked at the government’s use of the Lean program to streamline health care.

The NDP says the program has not improved patient care.

Ferguson said Saskatchewan’s Health Quality Council didn’t know whether the use of Lean has improved the system.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

Filed under: News
comments powered by Disqus