One of the most important responsibilities a nursing home has with regard to its elderly residents is administering the appropriate medications at very specific times throughout the day. Most elderly residents of nursing homes typically need several different prescriptions administered to ensure their health and safety.
According to research published in the journal, Quality & Safety in Health Care,
almost every single nursing home they studied reported medication errors. Therefore, it remains critical for nursing homes to have carefully established systems and procedures in place to ensure that every resident receives the proper medication at the appropriate times. If an improper type of medication is used for a resident of a nursing home, serious injuries, or even death could occur.
Examples of Improper Medication
There are many ways a nursing home resident could possibly receive improper medication, leading to severe injuries or fatality. Some of these include:
- Receiving completely incorrect medicine.
- Receiving the improper dosage of the correct medication.
- Receiving the improper form of the correct medication (i.e., pill instead of liquid).
- Receiving expired medications.
- Receiving medications that a resident is unable to take (i.e., the pill is too large to swallow).
Improper Medication Use and Nursing Home Neglect
Every nursing home must have a standardized plan of action regarding the administration of medications to its residents to ensure that there are never errors in preparation or administration of prescription medications.
Any medication error that occurs in a nursing home is a completely preventable error that should simply never occur. Sometimes, a medication error is a form of neglect toward their residents, which can result in catastrophic injuries or death. Some of the standards that every nursing home should include in their protocol regarding the distribution of medications include;
- Verification that the proper medication will go to the correct resident.
- All nursing home staff should have the ability to obtain accurate drug information for all medications administered to residents, in case they have any concerns or questions.
- Medications should have accurate and clear labels and markings describing the type of medication, dosage amount, and how often the administration of the medication should occur for every resident.
- Any equipment that a nursing home uses to determine whether or not prescription medication dosages are correct should receive inspections on a frequent basis.
- All nursing home employees should receive extensive and proper training regarding the preparation, administration, and disbursement of medications to elderly residents.
- A chain of command and constant communication should occur between the nursing home employees, the pharmacy, and any prescribing physicians regarding medications for residents.
- The residents should always receive accurate information regarding their prescriptions so they can participate in the process of medication distribution and double-check to see if they were distributed correctly.
Improper Type of Medication Used as a Form of Nursing Home Abuse
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care says that nursing home staff sometimes administer improper medication to residents in order to restrain them. In these cases, a nursing home staff member will intentionally administer an improper type of medication, such as an antipsychotic medication, to a resident that does not have a prescription for this medication, as a way to control, calm, and immobilize unruly or disruptive residents.
In many cases, as elderly residents develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, they may become increasingly agitated or confused, leading nursing home staff members with serious challenges to calm and subdue them and ensure their comfort.
Unfortunately, in some cases, nursing home employees will independently make the decision to administer medications to chemically control these residents. However, these actions are a form of nursing home abuse and are illegal.
Wrongful Death Due To Improper Medication
Even if a nursing home employee did not have the direct intention to administer an incorrect medication to a resident, if they actually distributed an improper type of medication to an elderly resident which results in their death, the family of the resident may have the right to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
A wrongful death claim can include compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. If you believe your elderly loved one died due to improper medication usage at a nursing home, you may insist upon an autopsy, as many nursing homes attempt to conceal their abusive and negligent actions regarding the death of your loved one.
Consider a Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Attorney
If your elderly loved one suffered injuries due to receiving an improper type of medication, you have the legal right to pursue compensation for any injuries or damages. Consider calling Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn how a nursing home neglect and abuse attorney may be able to help you understand your legal rights and pursue justice on behalf of your loved one. Contact us at (800) 842-6336 today.