A nursing home should be a safe place for your loved one to receive care; however, sometimes these facilities are more hazardous than they should be. Nursing home neglect and abuse are more common in nursing homes than one would imagine. Mistakes occur all too frequently, sometimes with disturbing results. Medication mistakes should be kept to a minimum through state regulations. However, when an error happens the patient could end up seriously injured or worse.
Types of Medication Errors
Medication mistakes may happen in a number of ways. Prescriptions may be taken without enough fluid or food, pills may be split, medications may not be properly prepared or stored, or may be taken incorrectly, among other things. A one-time error is not as likely to cause problems as ongoing mistakes are. Nonetheless, any problems with the administration of prescriptions may be considered negligent and is cause for concern. In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reported that 1.3 million people are harmed each year due to medication mistakes.
Negligent Medication Mistakes
It is estimated that about 90% of all nursing home patients are taking at least one prescription medication, while many are taking two, three, or more daily. Administration of drugs can lead to errors. Nursing home understaffing or lack of training could cause problems to happen. Some of the most common negligent medication mistakes include:
- Administration of expired or outdated medications
- Incorrect paperwork or documentation on patients
- Administration technique errors
- Overdose or multiple doses
- Giving medications to wrong patient
- Failure to provide medications
- Providing medications at the wrong rate or duration
Some mistakes may be made due to lack of attention to detail, when a caregiver does not have enough time to take the care necessary to properly administer medications to patients. Other times, the medication may be reduced in an attempt to save money or time. Another problem could be inexperienced workers who do not understand the proper procedures. When medication errors occur they can lead to serious medical issues and even death.
Preventing Medication Errors
If you have a parent or loved one living in a nursing home you are probably fearful that this problem could happen to them. There are a few steps you can take to help ensure that prescriptions are properly administered. Make sure that you keep a list of all the medications that have been prescribed by the doctor, along with the dosage directions. Discuss medication administration with the nursing home management so you know proper procedures are in place. Alert caregivers to any problems your relative may have in taking pills. If you notice any signs of a problem, contact the staff and doctor immediately.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing homes and care facilities are held accountable for the administration of prescription medications to residents and patients. When mistakes occur it is usually considered negligent behavior. There have been reports of knowingly providing improper medications as a way to sedate or calm a person. This would likely be nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse and neglect happen quite often. When a patient has been seriously harmed due to a medication mistake, the problem needs to be reported. Additionally, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses caused by the mistake as well as money for pain and suffering. Contact the experienced attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP for a consultation.