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Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

Home » Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

Nursing home staff are responsible for handling a great deal of their patients’ needs, including their medication. Making an error in a resident’s medication is among the most serious mistakes a nursing home can make. The results can be fatal or have significant life-changing consequences.

By law, nursing home facilities must maintain a medication error rate below 5 percent. Errors can result because a staff member is being inattentive, or simply doesn’t know how to administer the medicine. Occasionally, a staff member makes a mistake like being forgetful or picking up the wrong pills. Medication errors come in many forms, examples of which include:

  • Administering the wrong medication
  • Administering the incorrect dose of the correct medication
  • Cutting medication incorrectly
  • Failing to mix, roll, or shake the medication
  • Ignoring or forgetting the prescribing physician’s instructions
  • Not using the correct kind of fluid or using an incorrect amount
  • Not providing adequate foods or antacids with medications
  • Administering expired medication
  • Administering medication too frequently or not frequently enough
  • Administering the wrong form or strength of medication
  • Mixing up medications
  • Administering medication a resident is allergic to
  • Failure to monitor residents after administrating medication
  • Lab work errors

Many older patients are on numerous medications. Polypharmacy is a term that describes the use of multiple drugs to treat a single condition. When a resident must take several medicines, it becomes easy for a staff member to act negligently. They may forget to administer one of the drugs or administer more than the allowable doses of another.

Errors should be immediately addressed and corrected. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Some of the more unscrupulous facilities attempt to hide their mistakes. Staff members may be reluctant to admit their mistakes for fear of being punished. A staff member can seriously aggravate the problem by attempting to “make up” missed dosages or administer stronger dosages. They not only have no authority to do this, but they can jeopardize the life and health of the patient.

The consequences of prescription medication errors are disastrous. Among them are the following:

  • Falls and other injuries due to visual or cognitive impairment
  • Negative drug interactions
  • Complications from missing required medications
  • Hospitalization
  • Dehydration or malnutrition side effects
  • Behavioral changes
  • Death

Nursing homes can take steps to ensure these sorts of errors and consequences don’t occur. First and foremost, they must ensure they have the correct patient matched to the medication. Next, they need the correct drug or drugs, and the correct dosages of each. They also need the right form of the drug. Liquid and solid versions of a drug are not necessarily the same, because they have different absorption rates. Finally, the medication must be given at the correct time and with the correct frequency.

When nursing homes fail to take reasonable steps to safeguard their patients’ health and safety, they are acting negligently. This is often evidenced by poorly staffed or poorly trained nursing homes. Failure to communicate prescription medication information from doctors to staff, and vice versa, also indicates negligence. Another major source of error is the failure to keep proper records. These errors are not excusable, and because of the potential health consequences, they must be firmly addressed.

Aggressive Nursing Home Injury Attorneys You Can Count on

When nursing home facilities act negligently, they put the lives of their patients at risk. No one should have to worry that their loved one may be injured because of poorly run nursing homes. If you or a loved one have been injured because of medication errors in a nursing home, call a nursing home abuse lawyer at Schneider Hammers. We will fight for the compensation your loved one deserves for their injuries.