Government must act to reduce harmful medicine use in aged care

PSA has called on the Federal Government to address medicine safety in residential aged care facilities in the upcoming Federal Budget.


The Government’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that Australia is facing a critical problem with medicine mismanagement in aged care facilities.


There is no doubt that the absence of regular pharmacist services in aged care facilities is causing harm to older Australians. As custodians of medicine safety, pharmacists are here to keep people safe from medicine-related harm. When you don’t have the right level of investment in pharmacists, this is the outcome which results.


PSA’s Medicine Safety: Take Care and Medicine Safety: Aged Care reports found that, of those people living in aged care facilities:


  • Over 95% have at least on problem with their medicines detected at the time of a medicines review; most have three problems;
  • 6% were administered at least one potentially hazardous medicine combination;
  • 50% of people with dementia are given medicines with anticholinergic properties, worsening confusion and other dementia symptoms;
  • 20% of unplanned hospital admissions is due to inappropriate medicine use.


Pharmacists, with their unique expertise in medicines management, are ideally placed to identify and resolve these issues. Embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities will safeguard residents from the harms medicines are causing, by ensuring pharmacists are available to:


  • Undertake medicines reviews;
  • Support better clinical governance in medicine use;
  • Educate, train and support the aged care workforce.


PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, said that the proposed action will ensure an improvement in medicine safety and optimal health outcomes for older Australians.


“The Morrison Government has already recognised medicine safety as a National Health Priority Area.”


“Now, they must act to address medicine safety in residential aged care facilities, in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission.”


“Residents in aged care facilities deserve to have timely and regular access to the expertise of a pharmacist if they require advice and support with their medicines and medicine management.”


“Embedding pharmacists in aged care facilities will improve aged care medication management, ultimately reducing medicine-related harm amongst residents.”



Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463