The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 outlines the rights of nursing home patients, including the accommodation of their medical needs. The legislation also makes clear the right of the patient to take an active role in their own care plan and to receive full disclosure about any changes in care or treatment.
This means that, as long as the patient retains the capacity to make their own decisions, they can discuss with their medical team all methods of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment intervention, including medications. Nursing home staff members have an obligation to provide all patients with their medications as their medical records and care plan indicate. If nursing home staff members fail to give medications on schedule or at all, their negligence can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of their patients.
Prevalence of Prescription Medication Among Nursing Home Patients
Efficient medication pass procedures are essential to the health of nursing home patients, as staff must accurately manage large volumes of medication and take precautions to ensure that each patient receives the appropriate drug and dosage. If nursing homes fail to give patients medications on schedule or at all, patients may experience a serious interruption in the management of their disease, treatment of symptoms, or relief of pain.
Medical Issues in Nursing Homes
Over time, the ability of the body to continue its frequent production of certain disease-fighting cells decreases, making elderly people more susceptible to illness and less able to recover quickly from illness, injury, and infection, according to Dermatologic Clinics.
Additionally, chronic medical conditions that result from years of development or long-term habits such as smoking, inactivity, and poor nutrition often appear in later years, and many require medications to treat them.
Especially in advanced age, many chronic diseases require daily treatment to keep patients from experiencing uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous effects of their condition. Certain medications can also slow the progress of the diseases they treat to help patients maintain a higher quality of life. Chronic conditions that can occur in nursing homes include:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
According to an article in Aging Health, over 2 million infections occur in the 16,000 nursing homes across the United States each year. In the elderly, infections often require hospitalization and longer treatment times and often contribute to mortality.
Nursing home residents regularly experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) as a result of their suppressed immune systems, and failure to treat UTIs can lead to severe complications that sometimes mimic other conditions, such as dementia.
Other types of infections that frequently occur in nursing homes include respiratory infections, which can restrict airways and lead to difficulty breathing, and skin infections, including bedsores. Nursing home staff must give scheduled medications to patients suffering from these and other bacterial infections to relieve discomfort and prevent prolonged illness that can lead to more serious problems.
A Reuters article reports that approximately 40% of nursing home patients experience moderate to severe pain each day for several consecutive months, and some of those in pain do not receive medication to alleviate their symptoms. The article also notes that minorities and patients with cognitive development experience a lack of assistance with their pain management more often than other patients.
While treating pain in a nursing home setting can present a challenge due to specific patient needs, interactions with other medications, and medication refusal, staff must ensure they provide medications on schedule and communicate with all patients to accommodate their health and comfort.
Failure to Provide Medications on Schedule or At All Constitutes Neglect
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing home patients have a right to receive quality care and treatment with dignity, urgency, and respect and take an active role in their care plans. When nursing home staff members do not give patients medications, their failure to act constitutes abandonment, a form of neglect.
Unlike physical abuse, which typically has an immediate effect on the patient, negligence occurs when staff ignores patients and their needs for extended periods of time. If patients do not receive regular medications as directed by their doctors or at all, they may experience significant declines in their health.
A Lawyer Can Help Handle Your Case
Federal law prohibits any form of neglect from occurring in nursing homes, including the inconsistent or inaccurate provision of medication. When families choose nursing homes for their spouses, parents, and other family members, they make the difficult decision to trust that facility staff will ensure the proper care of their loved one and meet all of their needs. In the event that they discover their loved one has not received their medications, they can hold the nursing home accountable for neglect.
If you or a family member suffered abandonment as a nursing home patient, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek justice and compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact us today at (800) 842-6336 to discuss your case in a free case evaluation.