A new study in Britain of medication errors in senior living facilities shows that the number of such errors is greatly reduced if patients receive their pills from a monitored dosage system, reports U.S. News and World Report. A monitored dosage system consists of a tray with compartments for doses to be given on a specific day or time and simplify drug rounds for healthcare staff.

The study encompassed 233 residents in 55 senior housing facilities in the United Kingdom. Pills or capsules in dispensers made up 53 percent of the medications administered to residents, with pills not in dispensers accounting for 29 percent, liquid medications accounting for 9 percent and inhaled medications accounting for 4 percent. The remainder consisted of injectables, creams and eye drops.

When a pill not from a dispenser was given, mistakes were twice as likely as when they were from a dispenser. Mistakes were four times as likely with liquids; 19 times more likely with creams, injections or eye drops; and more than 33 times more likely with an inhaler, according to the report.

Study researchers noted that in addition to suffering a high rate of dosage errors, seniors are at an increased risk of complications when medication errors do occur because they often take multiple prescriptions and metabolize medications differently than younger patients.