Medication errors in nursing homes seem to be common. According to the American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy in the U.S. alone, thousands of preventable medication errors happen every single year in a nursing home setting.
Medication errors in nursing homes are dangerous to seniors’ health, who risk devastating adverse effects from receiving the wrong medication. Medication errors can also be extremely costly, causing unnecessary medical care expenses for nursing home residents and their families.
A study from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding skilled nursing services revealed that not only were 59% of adverse effects from wrong medication clearly or likely avoidable, they also resulted in a huge cost due to hospitalization of patients. In one month alone, the cost of medical errors reached millions of dollars.
Medication errors and subsequent medical care expenses stem from different issues, such as inadequate care, inadequate monitoring of residents, and failure or delay of care.
Health Effects From Medication Errors
Medical errors in nursing homes can come in several ways. A senior might receive the wrong medication, intended for another nursing home resident. They could also receive too much of their own medication, resulting in a dangerous overdose. Alternatively, a senior may receive too little medication, which can be ineffective in controlling their health condition.
If nursing home staff is skipping or forgetting to administer doses of medication, health conditions may worsen. There can be many adverse effects from taking the wrong medication, such as:
- Unwanted side effects
- Dangerous drug interactions
- Worsening medical conditions
- Life-threatening drug allergies
Even unintentional medication errors should not happen in the nursing home and can be nursing home abuse. In some cases, staff may deliberately give a senior too much sedative medication to make them easier to handle. This is not only illegal but can have dire consequences. Seniors who are over-sedated can be prone to accidents, for example slips and falls.
If your loved one suffered from injuries and incurred medical care expenses from receiving the wrong medication in the nursing home, you can contact a nursing home lawyer and find out if you have legal recourse against the nursing home.
Signs of Medication-Related Abuse
If you suspect that your loved one is getting the wrong medication, or receiving the wrong dose of their medications, you may be able to observe some tell-tale signs. Your loved one may seem sedated or unduly fatigued, for example. They may also suddenly suffer from new side effects or unexplained worsening of their health conditions due to taking the wrong medication. They might seem confused or disoriented.
Actions You Can Take
If you notice that something is amiss, you should speak to the nursing home staff. You can ask to see a log of the medications given to your loved one. Bear in mind that staff may have altered logs in order to protect themselves.
If you have already incurred expenses such as medical treatments and hospitalization due to your loved one receiving wrong medications, you could hold the nursing home to account and might be able to receive compensation for your expenses. It can be helpful to discuss your particular case with a nursing home lawyer.
The Cost of Medication Errors
For an elderly nursing home resident who is relying on their daily medications, medication errors can be devastating to their health and even prove fatal. A nursing home is responsible for ensuring that staff is suitably trained and qualified to administer correct medication and dosages and that each resident receives their medications on the day and at the time that they are supposed to.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Nursing Home Reform Act from 1987 states that residents in a skilled nursing home must have their medical needs met. Any mistakes by nursing home staff can turn out extremely costly, with the resident and family potentially saddled with medical expenses and hospitalization costs that could have easily been avoided.
According to the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, preventable medication errors may affect millions of patients each year and cost billions of dollars. Some seniors may have lasting damage from drug overdoses or receiving the wrong medication, requiring medical intervention indefinitely into the future.
Your Legal Options
Finding out that your loved one’s health suffered damage due to a mistake in the nursing home can be frustrating. If your loved one suffered health damage or even died as a result of a medical error, you may qualify to take legal action. We can help you seek justice and compensation for the physical and emotional suffering, as well as the medical care expenses resulting from medication errors. You could potentially file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home.
The nursing home is ultimately responsible for fulfilling the medical needs of residents, and you may be able to hold them responsible. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation to determine whether you have a case. You can reach us at (800) 842-6336.