Ruscin and Semla used a score to evaluate a patient's ability to perform the tasks involved in taking tablets or pills. This can identify patients who may require assistance in performing some or all of these steps. The authors are from the University of Colorado in Denver.


(1) Able to read the label.

(2) Able to open the safety vial.

(3) Able to interpret the instructions for taking the medication.

(4) Ability to remove and handle the tablets.

(5) Ability to differentiate between colors (and shapes).


Task Performance







total score =

= SUM(points for all 5 parameters)



• minimum score: 0

• maximum score: 5

• A score of 5 indicates the ability to perform all required tasks.

• Elderly patients with physical or mental disabilities are often unable to complete some or all of the tasks.

• Solutions can be individualized for each patient based on the pattern of difficulty. For example, a patient who has difficulty accessing a safety vial might have the pills dispensed in an alternative container.


Modification of score:

(1) Use a Likert type scale for grading partial abilities.

(2) Adjustments for ophthalmic or liquid preparations.

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