Think crushing pills is the answer? Think again.

When administering a pill or tablet to a patient becomes problematic, whether for behaviourial, or medical reasons (difficulty swallowing for example), many health care practitioners resort to crushing medication and mixing with a drink or food. However numerous studies have shown this practice to be not just inadvisable but potentially dangerous.

In a one day assessment of clinical practice at 17 hospital-based geriatric units, it was found that, of the 110 medications that were crushed, 48% were not recommended for crushing. The researchers assessed that in just over 20% of these cases, pill crushing resulted in a potential health threat for the patient or reduced efficacy of the medication.

Concerningly, in 95% of cases the equipment used to crush medications was not cleaned between patients and medication was spilled or lost in 70% of cases. In over 80% of cases protective equipment was not worn by staff during crushing, presenting a threat to workplace health and safety.

The assessment also found that the method of administration was questionable in 55% of cases (medication added to soup, coffee, juice, cream) and was potentially dangerous in 21% of cases (added to a laxative).

Researchers conducting the assessment recommended that doctors, pharmacists and nurses should urgently re-evaluate their administration practices for prescription medication in geriatric care facilities.

One of the ways some of the dangers listed above can be avoided altogether is by engaging a specialist compounding pharmacist from National Custom Compounding to make up a patient’s medication as an administration-friendly product.

For patients who have difficulty swallowing, such as babies, the elderly or those with an over-active gag reflex, a compounding pharmacist can make up medication to exact medicinal specification, as a liquid or trouche. If taste is a problem, medications can be made in a range of flavours including vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and even bubble gum.

We can also make up medications to exact dosage requirements, meaning no more messy pill cutting and in some circumstances we can combine several medications in one pill to reduce the number of pills that need to be administered throughout the day.

For more information on tailor-made medicine formulated specifically for the health needs of the individual, contact one of the friendly staff at National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or send an email to [email protected]

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