RNs more effectively identify medication discrepancies than LPNs in nursing homes

A research team from the University of Missouri-Columbia examined nurses' abilities with regard to identifying medication order issues at nursing homes.

BMC Health Services Research published the research.

Researchers interviewed nurses working in 12 different nursing homes across the Midwest. They asked registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to describe their roles in medication reconciliation as well as their reasoning when identifying medication order discrepancies.

Researchers found RNs were more concerned about accuracy, safety and knowing the resident's clinical condition when performing medication reconciliation. LPNs were more concerned about time and more likely to make assumptions about medication orders. Also, LPNs are less likely to recognize the complexities of residents' medical conditions as well as rely on rules when making decisions.

"Both RNs and LPNs serve as valuable assets to nursing homes and play critical roles in improving resident care," said Amy Vogelsmeier, associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and lead study author. "However, RNs offer a unique contribution to complex processes such as medication reconciliation because of their education. Nursing home leaders must acknowledge the differences and make certain the most qualified practitioner is assigned to handling medication orders to ensure residents remain safe."

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