Medication errors in nursing homes are unfortunately common, as a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows. Researchers found that 16-27% of nursing home residents receive incorrect medications.
Common Medication Errors In Nursing Homes
Sometimes nursing home staff make errors during the preparation or doling out of medicine. Mistakes of this kind can contradict doctors’ orders, manufacturers’ instructions, or other professional standards.
Medication errors in nursing homes can occur in many ways, including giving out the wrong medication, or giving out too much or too little medication. The following are some common medication errors in nursing homes that have happened to elderly residents.
- A doctor prescribes incorrect medication or the wrong dosage of medication.
- A doctor or pharmacist fails to check to see if the medication interacts with any other medications the resident is taking.
- The nursing home pharmacy or staff distributes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of medication to the resident.
- The nursing home staff incorrectly administer medication to a resident.
- The medication interacts negatively with the resident’s diet.
- Mislabeled medication.
- Crushing or slicing medications incorrectly.
- Not providing enough fluids or food with medications.
- Failure to property shake, mix, or roll medications.
- Failure to administer inhalers correctly.
- Providing expired medications to residents.
- Failure to ensure that residents receive their medications at the proper time or rate.
- Failure to check lab work.
- “Borrowing” medication from one resident to give to another when a medication runs low.
There are other ways that a staff member can make a medication error.
How Medication Errors Occur in Nursing Homes
Medication errors are entirely preventable and are oftentimes the result of negligence. From unreadable handwriting causing an incorrect prescription to incorrect dosages, nursing home pharmacies often make mistakes in giving out and dosing medicine. Even when the prescription is accurate, residents can receive medication incorrectly due to administration errors, such as injecting medicine into a muscle instead of the bloodstream.
Consequences of Medication Errors
The consequences of a medication error in a nursing home can range from minor to deadly. Depending on the medication and the error, any type of reaction could occur. While medication errors can be deadly, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study, the serious impacts and severe consequences of medication errors were low, with death being a very rare event.
As stated, medication errors are common in nursing homes, and the elderly are particularly susceptible to medication errors due to weakened immune systems and complete reliance on nursing home staff to administer their medications.
Prevention of Medication Errors
The entire nursing home staff must work together to prevent common medication errors in nursing homes from occurring. With so many different people coordinating medication for nursing home residents, several ways exist to ensure that nursing home residents receive correct and appropriate medication, including:
- Computerized systems connected throughout the nursing home staff and the medical community to ensure consistent communications.
- Compatible computerized systems among any medical providers and nursing home facilities.
- Automated dispensing devices.
- Uniform and universally accepted standards of writing prescriptions and orders.
- Appropriate and adequate education and training of nursing home staff.
- Competency testing of nursing home staff.
- Ensuring that every medication is ready for the appropriate resident and not delivered incorrectly or to the wrong resident.
We will study all relevant evidence to establish and prove that the nursing home did not complete all required processes.
Holding Nursing Homes Responsible for Medication Errors
If your elderly loved one suffered an injury as a result of a medication error, you may have a legal right to hold the nursing home responsible. We will get all of your elderly loved one’s medical records, their nursing home medication records, and hire a medical expert witness to examine the records to ensure that we build a strong case regarding your loved one’s injuries. An investigation will determine how the nursing home negligently administered and distributed the medication.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
If your elderly loved one suffered an injury from a medication error in a nursing home due to negligence, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your legal rights. We want to help you pursue the at-fault parties for justice and a potential settlement. The responsible party or parties should answer for their action or inaction. We want to help your family in any way we can.