What You Should Know about Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

shutterstock_6578288924-300x225According to the FDA, medication errors account for over 1 million injuries annually. A nursing home medication error is defined as a preventable drug-related mistake that impacts a nursing home resident. If you or your loved one is in such a facility, then it’s important to learn more information about this topic.

 Common Types of Medication Errors

The majority of nursing home residents use some kind of prescription medication, and there are a lot of ways things can go wrong when it comes to dispensing it. Here are some examples:

  • Providing patients with the wrong medications: This type of mistake may occur for numerous reasons. For example, confusing “diazepam” for “diltiazem” because they have similar names.
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage: A nurse may give patients an overdose or not enough to treat them.
  • Ignoring or lacking knowledge about patient medical histories: The staff member may be unaware of a patient’s medical history, allergies, diet, or other prescriptions. Not knowing this information could lead to a preventable reaction.
  • Providing medications that should not be taken together: Some medications should not be combined and are disastrous when it happens. For example, serotonin syndrome (which can be fatal) may occur if a patient took an antidepressant with a migraine medication.
  • Improperly administering medications: Using an improper technique, such as administering a drug intravenously rather than orally.
  • Failing to monitor the effects of medication: Many medications, including blood thinners (such as coumadin or heparin) require regular lab tests.
  • Improper preparation: Certain medications need to be prepared a specific way. Patients could be hurt when mistakes are made while preparing medications before the patient takes them. For example, splitting a pill that shouldn’t be split, including tablets or capsules that carry the instruction not to crush.
  • Failing to provide medication: In cases involving nursing home abuse, medication may be intentionally withheld from residents. There are also times when the staff provides expired medication, which results in not giving them the full benefit of the medication, in complications or even death because the medication is no longer safe to use.

Consequences for Residents when Medication Errors Occur

Medication mistakes can result in the residents developing additional health issues. It can lead to side effects of loss of balance leading to falls, dehydration, and malnutrition. Administering the wrong medication can cause adverse drug effects with different medications resulting in serious organ damage or even wrongful death.

Grounds for Lawsuits

There are numerous concerns that may be experienced by nursing home residents that are grounds for lawsuits based on a medication errors. These include the following:

  • Substandard medication management: When the facility doesn’t have the right medication on hand so the resident won’t have the medication available when required.
  • Ignoring orders: Some staff members will ignore the administration instructions and change the order or add medications that aren’t ordered.
  • Medication borrowing: When there is medication missing, the staff member may borrow a medication from one resident to fill another’s need.
  • Diverting medication: When the employee diverts medications for their own personal use or sells them to other people.

Talk to a Nursing Home Attorney to Help Your Loved One

Many residents in nursing homes need their required medicine to reduce their pain, to stay healthy, and to live their lives comfortably. When this is disrupted with medication errors, detrimental and deadly consequences can ensue. If you are having any problems with this issue involving a nursing home’s negligence, then you should find out if they can be held accountable. Contact Walton Law for help in evaluating your case.

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