Polypharmacy refers to the practice of taking multiple medications at one time. A doctor may prescribe two or more drugs to treat a single condition, or several medications may treat different conditions that may or may not be related. In some cases, a medication treats the side effects of another drug. Senior citizens may take a variety of medications.
While polypharmacy is appropriate in some circumstances, it can be risky. In many cases, different doctors prescribe medications. If they do not communicate with each other, and if a patient does not keep all the doctors up to date on the medications he or she is taking, a physician may prescribe a medication that can have a dangerous interaction with a drug prescribed by another doctor. If a physician changes the dosage of one medication, that may affect the patient’s response to other medications prescribed by different doctors.
In nursing homes, polypharmacy can lead to confusion and can increase the risk of medication errors. If caregivers do not administer drugs as prescribed, patients may experience life-threatening complications. In some cases, nursing home staff give residents other drugs that may interact with ones prescribed by doctors.
If your loved one lived in a nursing home and was injured or killed because of a medication error, negligence, or abuse, an Oklahoma City polypharmacy lawyer may be able to help your family seek justice. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to talk about your potential case.
How Medication Errors Can Occur in a Nursing Home
If a patient has been prescribed several medications, they may have different dosages that may need to be taken at different times. That can be confusing for staff members at nursing homes.
Even if staff are well-trained, medications can be missed, given twice, or administered at the wrong dosage if employees fail to communicate with each other and to update records as required. If drugs are not taken as prescribed, patients may wind up in the hospital facing life-threatening complications.
Nursing Home Understaffing
According to the Department of Justice, understaffing presents a problem in nursing homes across the United States. Staffing shortages can cause employees to feel rushed, and they may cut corners or make mistakes.
Sometimes nursing homes require employees who have not received appropriate training to administer medications to patients if the nursing home is short-staffed.
An improperly trained employee can make a mistake that can have serious repercussions. Often, nursing homes do not have enough doctors and nurses on-site at any given time to adequately monitor patients’ medication records and to ensure that drugs are being administered as prescribed.
For a free legal consultation with an polypharmacy lawyer serving Oklahoma City, call (800) 794-0444
Mistakes in Administering Medicine
Staff members may not notice problems until it is too late, or they may not realize that changes in appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, dizziness, anxiety, depression, confusion, and other symptoms are a result of drug interactions or medication errors. Employees may simply attribute those changes to normal aging and may fail to provide appropriate care or to inform their superiors.
A nursing home employee may provide a patient with an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to treat a common ailment, such as a headache. If the staff member does not know what prescription medications the patient is taking, or if the employee has not been trained on the possibility of dangerous drug interactions and does not consult a medical professional, the employee may unintentionally put the patient’s life in danger.
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Misuse of Medications
Sometimes nursing home workers feel overwhelmed by the demands of the job, inadequate staffing, and lack of support from management and use chemical restraints to control patients. Staff members may give residents medications that make them tired and docile to make them easier for employees to manage.
In nursing homes across the United States, caregivers may administer antipsychotic drugs to dementia patients who do not have a mental illness, according to Med Care. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of antipsychotic drugs in those circumstances.
Misuse of antipsychotic medications can increase the risk of death. Despite that danger, and even though patients have not given informed consent, some nursing homes continue to abuse patients by inappropriately administering antipsychotic drugs.
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An Oklahoma City Polypharmacy Lawyer May Help Your Family Seek Justice
If your loved one was injured or died as a result of a medication-related error at a nursing home, the home may bear liability for negligence if it failed to employ enough qualified staff, or if it did not provide appropriate training or put safeguards in place to prevent mistakes.
If the staff at the nursing home controlled your family member with drugs that were not medically necessary, did not provide a benefit to the patient, and put your loved one at risk, an Oklahoma City polypharmacy lawyer may work to prove that the home committed abuse.
Our team may speak to your family member who lived in the nursing home, other relatives, fellow residents, and staff members. We can review medical records and seek the advice of medical experts to figure out what happened to your relative and who was responsible.
We may be able to negotiate a financial settlement with the facility’s insurance company, or we may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm works on a contingency basis. That means that if you hire our firm to represent you and your family, you will not have to pay us unless we recover a financial award.
You do not have a lot of time to take legal action to seek justice. Contact our office to see how we may be able to assist you.