Use of Medication Technicians in US Nursing Homes: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Carmel M. Hughes, Rollin M. Wright, Kate L. Lapane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the relation between organizational characteristics and medication technician (MT) use and quantify the impact of MTs on increasing the likelihood of using medications, employing the example of antiosteoporosis medications. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: The setting included 6344 Medicare/Medicaid certified nursing homes in 23 states. Participants: Residents older than 65 years of age. Measurements: On-line Survey and Certification of Automated Records (OSCAR) provided facility characteristics information including structural, resource, and staffing levels. The Minimum Data Set (MDS) provided information regarding use of antiosteoporosis medications and resident factors. Adjusted estimates of MT use on antiosteoporosis medication use were derived using logistic regression with generalized estimating equations. Results: MT use varied by state (6.7% in Alaska vs 85% in Kansas). Homes with greater nursing staffing levels per 100 beds (CNA, RN, LPN) were less likely to use MTs, while larger homes, homes using physician extenders, and contracting pharmacy services were more likely to use MTs. Homes with MTs were more likely to have medication error rates of at least 5% (10.1% vs 7.3%) than homes without MTs. After adjustment for resident and facility factors, residents in MT facilities were not more likely to receive antiosteoporosis treatment relative to those in homes without MTs. Conclusion: These data call into question the use of MTs in nursing homes. Use of MTs may lead to more errors, yet not increase use of medications that are labor intensive to administer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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