Monday, January 10, 2011
Their study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, points out that the practice could have serious clinical consequences for tablets that have a narrow margin between therapeutic and toxic doses.
And they are calling on manufacturers to produce greater dose options and liquid alternatives to make the practice unnecessary.
Researchers from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium, asked five volunteers to split eight different-sized tablets using three techniques commonly used in nursing homes.
They found that 31 per cent of the tablet fragments deviated from their theoretical weight by more than 15 per cent and that 14 per cent deviated by more than 25 per cent. Even the most accurate method produced error margins of 21 per cent and eight per cent respectively.
"Tablet-splitting is widespread in all healthcare sectors and a primary care study in Germany found that just under a quarter of all drugs were split" says study lead Dr Charlotte Verrue.