Medication reviews reduce risk of death in aged care residents

Regular medication reviews of aged care residents can lower the risk of death, according to a study from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Funded by the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy (AACP), the study followed 57,719 aged care residents around the country for up to a year, keeping track of whether they were hospitalised, sent to emergency departments, or died during that time.

“We found that individuals who had a medication review within a 12-month period had a 5% lower risk of death.

“There was no difference in the risk of hospitalisation between residents who had a medication review and those who hadn’t, the impact was solely based on mortality rates,” said study lead Dr Janet Sluggett.

Though all residents in the study were able to access free medication reviews – which typically identify up to four medication problems per person – only 22% did.

“Reviews often show which medicines can be adjusted or stopped, reducing the burden on the resident and boosting the quality of care.

“There’s a clear link between getting a review and a reduction in the use of some medicines, such as those for reducing reflux, which are often taken for longer than needed,” said Dr Sluggett.

The typical aged care resident takes up to 10 medications per day.

Image: Sage Ross/CC BY-SA 4.0

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A special thanks to our contributors

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.