MDS has been promoted as a safe system of medicine administration in Care Homes, but MDS is merely a convenient form of packaging for a limited group of medicines. Safe practice is not guaranteed by use of a system alone but is promoted by only allowing care workers who are trained and competent to give medicines.

MDS does improve some procedures including:

  • The system of organising repeat prescriptions for residents
  • Supply to the Care Home of printed MAR charts
  • A visual check whether medicines have been prepared and given to the resident.

MDS can only be used for tablets and capsules, but there are exceptions and the following should not be put into MDS:

  • Medicines that are sensitive to moisture, e.g. effervescent tablets
  • Light-sensitive medicines, e.g. chlorpromazine
  • Medicines that should only be dispensed in glass bottles, e.g. glyceryl trinitrate (GTN)
  • Medicines that may be harmful when handled, e.g. cytotoxic products like methotrexate
  • Medicines that should only be taken when required, e.g. painkillers
  • Medicines whose dose may vary depending on test results, e.g. warfarin.

Liquid medicines, creams, eye drops, inhalers are supplied in traditional containers.Therefore, any Care Home that uses MDS will have two different systems operating.

MDS works well when a person’s medication is regular and does not change frequently. Care Homes must consider carefully how any changes that the prescriber makes to the person’s medicines can be dealt with by the supplying pharmacy quickly. This may involve:

  • Introducing new medicines into the pack
  • Removing medicines from the pack.

Packaging of medicines for ‘as required’ use in MDS is not suitable.