Long-term care nurses are specially trained and licensed to meet the needs of patients in care facilities, such as nursing homes. Sometimes, however, there are cases of neglect and abuse in such facilities, for example when a nurse fails to monitor a patient after medication.
Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Medication errors, or “any preventable medication-related event that may cause or lead to patient harm,” can happen because of individual error, medication packaging, and numerous other reasons. Studies show that people over the age of 65 are more likely to experience adverse side effects from a variety of drug classes, including any of the following:
- Cardiac Medications.
- Psychiatric Medications (antidepressants, tranquilizers, hypnotics, etc.).
- Pain Relievers.
Our bodily organs and systems age in at the same time, making them less efficient and more vulnerable to negative impacts over time. Additionally, if medications are not specifically designed, tested, and proven effective for older patients, adverse side effects that were previously unknown may occur.
Medication Monitoring for Nursing Home Patients
Patients in nursing homes may have multiple medications to be administered per day. When this is the case, they are more at risk of suffering from medication errors than ever. Here are a few high-risk situations in which nursing home patients may need additional monitoring when medication is administered, as described by the Office of the Inspector General:
- The patient takes more than five prescribed medications per day.
- The patient has 12 or more doses of any given medication per day.
- The patient has “more than three concurrent disease states.”
This is not an exhaustive list of reasons why a nursing home patient may need additional monitoring when medication is administered. However, it is worth noting that these circumstances alone are common for nursing home patients, which sets a high standard of care in itself.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services, simply giving too much medication, not giving enough medication, or failing to monitor patients after administering medications could warrant a claim for nursing home neglect or abuse.
Rights of Residents in Nursing HomesAlthough they may not be able to have full autonomy and independence, people living in nursing homes are entitled to quality care and life with as much independence as possible. The Social Security Act requires that nursing homes take care of their beneficiaries “in a manner that ensures dignity, respect, and choice.” On the same note, quality of life should not be negatively impacted just because someone lives in a nursing home.
Standards for an individual’s care may vary by state, but must be completed “promptly on admission” to a nursing home and must address your loved one’s:
- Medical needs.
- Nursing needs.
- Psychosocial needs.
In addition to meeting these needs, the plan of care must address exactly how each need is met while they are living in the nursing home. Family members and other nursing home helpers can make sure your loved one is being appropriately cared for by specifying their needs for medications, food, fluids, limits on restraints, and more. This can prevent any miscommunication or misunderstandings when it comes to administering and monitoring medication use.
In the event that your loved one stops receiving the quality of care you expect, the nursing home staff may face serious consequences for neglect or abuse.
Common Mistakes and Consequences for Errors in Nursing Homes
Medication errors can happen anywhere from the moment the medication is prescribed, to how it is administered and monitored afterwards. Physicians and nurses face serious legal and ethical issues if they make an error while prescribing, administering, or monitoring patient medications. Mayo Clinic states that negative consequences for medication error include, and are not limited to: [loss of] “patient trust, civil actions, criminal charges, and medical board discipline.”
Legal Options for Nursing Home Abuse Cases
Families of neglected or abused loved ones may have any of the following types of cases:
- Personal injury due to negligence.
- Wrongful death.
- Medical malpractice.
- Breach of contract.
This is not an exhaustive list of cases you may pursue if you believe your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home. The challenge some families face when trying to negotiate for better care of their loved one in a nursing home, is that not all nursing homes are held to the same standards.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Can Help You
Nursing home abuse cases can be tricky to navigate, but that does not mean you have to pursue your case alone. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation at (800) 842-6336.