Nursing Home Medication Error
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NURSING HOME MEDICATION ERROR
Maladministration of medicine and medication errors are frequent and serious problems at nursing homes. Residents are given the wrong medication or not given the medication in the dosage or frequency as required by the physician’s order. This occurs as a result of carelessness on the part of the staff, lack of supervision of the nurses administering the medications or not having enough properly trained and supervised to staff to administer the medications.
Studies have shown delayed or missed treatment or medication and the administration of the wrong dose or the wrong medication are the two most common medical mistakes made in the hospital setting. Studies also show that nursing home medication error occurrences are widely under reported. It is estimated that only 1.5% of all medication errors are actually reported.
Nursing home and medication error risks can be considerable because many patients are on a number of prescriptions and have already compromised physical health conditions. These risks are also exacerbated by the fact that nursing homes are often understaffed. If medication error causes injury to a resident, they have the right to seek compensation for their losses.
Examples of medication errors
To the untrained eye, it may be difficult to determine whether something qualifies as a medication error. However, once you have a better understanding of what constitutes a medication error, it is easier to be aware of them.
Splitting medications that should not be split – These include tablets, capsules, or other types of medication that specifically say, “Do not crush.”
Not having enough fluid – There are countless prescription medications that require the elderly patient to consume a certain amount of fluid when ingesting the medication. Improper hydration or not taking in fluid when taking the medication may actually cause harm to the patient.
Inadequate antacids or food – Just as some prescriptions require fluid, others require food. There are also medications that require the patient to take an antacid before ingesting the medication. It is important that the nursing staff ensure that patients follow the recommended guidelines regarding antacids, fluids, and food.
Not preparing the medication properly – There are a number of nursing home medications that require that it be shaken or mixed before the patient takes it. Without following the proper procedure, the resident is at risk of receiving too much or too little of the medication. For example, it is important to mix insulin suspensions without air bubbles before administering the medication.
Swallowing sublingual tablets – Sublingual tablets are administered by placing them underneath the tongue and allowing them to dissolve. However, some elderly patients will swallow these sublingual tablets instead. While once or twice might not be terrible, it is important that the staff recognize this is happening and address this as a reoccurring issue. Perhaps the medication needs to be altered to ensure proper ingestion.
Why Do Medication Errors Occur in Nursing Homes?
Medication errors may occur in nursing homes due to mistakes made by individual staff members. However, in too many cases, the medication error reflects systemic problems.
Nursing homes owe residents and their families a duty to hire staff without a history of drug abuse or other criminal offenses. The failure to conduct proper background checks can lead to staff members who may steal or sell drugs that are otherwise intended for residents.
The operator of a nursing home must also provide proper training to staff members on how to administer drugs such as analgesics or laxatives. For instance, staff members should know the proper dosages to administer and how to avoid dangerous drug interactions.
The home must also have a system or policies in place for administering medication and make sure that staff members are properly supervised. The failure to detect staff members who are failing to follow established medication protocols is inexcusable.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse you should take action quickly and contact us online or call us at 866.441.1417 to set up a free consultation. Someone from our team is available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.