Many elderly nursing home residents remain unable to swallow certain pills, leading nursing home employees to crush their pills or dissolve them in water as a way for them to receive their medications.
However, if the nursing home staff crushes a pill against the manufacturer’s warning, they risk making the medication completely ineffective or even dangerous. If you believe your elderly loved one suffered injuries as a result of their nursing home crushing a pill against the manufacturer’s warning, you may have the right to pursue justice on their behalf.
Dangers of Crushing Medications Against Manufacturer’s Warnings
Ultimately, crushing a pill against a manufacturer’s warning can result in a major change in how the medication actually works and functions.
Some medications are specifically designed to release over a period of time, such as several hours. Other medications contain special coatings to protect the stomach or to protect the active ingredient in the medication from suffering damage due to stomach acid.
If a nursing home staff employee crushes a medication incorrectly or inappropriately, that medication could release into an elderly resident’s system all at once, instead of over many hours. Conversely, doing so could make the medication completely ineffective as the stomach acid neutralizes the medication.
Additionally, if crushed, a pill could have less efficacy because the dosage amount is now not correct, or could become dangerous or even toxic if the medication enters the person’s body all at once.
Nursing Home Responsibilities Regarding Medication Preparation and Administration
There are many instances where a medication remains perfectly safe to crush or open, mix with food such as applesauce, or mix with liquids in order to make it easier for an elderly resident to the consumer.
Every prescription medication will come with its own information leaflet, which the nursing home employee should always refer to prior to making an attempt to crush a pill. If there is any question or confusion, the nursing home employee should visit with a pharmacist or the prescribing physician in order to receive authorization to crush a pill prior to administering this medication to a nursing home resident.
If there is a circumstance in which a resident remains unable to swallow a specific medication, a physician should receive notice of this condition in order to either change the prescription or make another medical suggestion.
A nursing home staff employee should never make independent discretionary decisions regarding crushing a pill against a manufacturer’s warning without prior authorization from a pharmacist or physician. Additionally, many manufacturers will specifically address exactly how a nursing home resident or patient may crush a pill so that it never loses efficacy.
According to a study published in the BMJ, when there were warning signs, and when staff members were educated on the effects of improperly crushing medicine, the crushing error rate decreased. Therefore, it is the nursing home’s responsibility—and in their best interest—to educate the staff on crushing medication.
Wrongful Death as a Result of Medication Errors
According to Johns Hopkins, medical errors, including medication errors, are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 250,000 people dying.
Certain types of medications are needed for the survival of nursing home residents. If the nursing home staff crushes these pills against the manufacturer’s warnings, many residents may suffer upset stomachs immediately after the dosage due to the flood of chemicals in their body, and then have a complete lack of protection for the remained of the day.
In many of these cases, a patient can actually die due to the lack of medication properly entering their body due to the staff crushing a pill against the manufacturer’s warning.
If your elderly loved one died in a nursing home, and you suspect that their death may have a connection to the staff crushing a pill against a manufacturer’s warning, you may have the right to pursue justice through a wrongful death claim.
While no amount of money will ever make up for your loved one’s death, you have a right to receive justice and also compensation for any outstanding medical bills and funeral costs, as well as for the pain and suffering your loved one endured.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one died as a result of improper administration of medication of any kind in a nursing home, make sure to insist upon an autopsy for your loved one, even if a government agency remains unwilling to fund this autopsy. Many nursing homes attempt to shield themselves from liability regarding the death of one of their residents, and an autopsy might determine if your loved one died to a medication error.
Consider a Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Attorney
If your elderly loved one suffered injuries due to a medication error in their nursing home, 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 right and pursue justice on behalf of your loved one. Contact us at (800) 842-6336 today.