The government has ordered PCTs across the UK to carry out safety reviews over the use of controversial drugs such as antipsychotics in care homes.
The move has been made following a government-funded review into the management of medicines in UK care homes, which found an alarming number of medication errors made by doctors prescribing drugs to elderly residents.
The alert also pre-empts a major investigation that is due to be carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which will scrutinise medicines management by GPs, care homes and PCTs across the country.
Concern has been raised over the systems that are used to prescribe drugs in care homes following a number of high profile cases of elderly residents being "drugged" in order to keep them sedated.
Health officials were ordered to conduct reviews via the NHS Central Alerting System, urging them to take "immediate action" to audit the prescription of drugs such as antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.
"PCTs should work with their primary medical care contractors, providers of pharmaceutical services and social care partners to determine how medication errors in care homes for older people can be reduced," the alert read.
Copyright © Press Association 2010
"I agree that this is to keep them sedated, can you imagine an elderly client bedridden and having problems with swallowing and still having benzos and nurses are administering and not questioning this? Question who though as how often do the GPs come and review the clients that they are prescribing treatment for, maybe when they receive a fax to say that the client is poorly and comes for approx 5 mins. The elderly, regardless of
their presentation, should have regular reviews which would include medication and presentation" – Name and address withheld