Protecting Your Loved Ones from Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Nursing home residents and their loved ones place their trust in long-term care facilities to provide the best level of care possible. One critical part of that care is seeing that residents are adequately medicated. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are an especially vulnerable population. Many residents have multiple chronic conditions, have physical and cognitive impairments, lack financial resources, and are on several medications.
Medication errors in nursing homes happen all too frequently. Many errors go unnoticed because the effect is not severe, but some can be debilitating and even life-threatening. Even when there's no immediate apparent harm, improper medication can contribute to later mental or physical health issues. These errors may also raise the question of broader neglect at a nursing home.
Hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer will help you in many ways. Just some of those ways are:
Nurinsg homes typically have large teams of lawyers that work to keep their liablity low. We will gather as much evidence needed to ensure we can prove their liability in the case.
Once we have the evidence we need for a strong case, we will work to get you or your loved one the compensation needed. This will take a lot of negotioated with the other side.
It's challenging to imagine loved ones as the victims of neglect. Still, one report by the World Health Organization estimates that as many as 12% of elders in institutional settings have been victims of negligence. As a result, nursing home residents and their guardians should learn their fundamental rights to be aware of their legal options if a medication error results in serious injuries or death.
We work on a contingency basis for personal injury claims such as medication errors in nursing homes. A contingency fee basis means we do not charge you anything unless we win a settlement in or out of court. This fee structure ensures we work hard for your case and that you don't have even more out-of-pocket expenses during a stressful time. We also offer contingency fee schedules for other practice areas, such as:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outline 17 rights for nursing home residents. According to federal law, all residents have the right to:
Medication errors are related to several of these rights. If medication errors in nursing homes go uncorrected and unreported, the patient's family also suffers. Their involvement with their loved ones is jeopardized.
Nursing home standards require that medication be administered adequately and on schedule. A nursing home's procedures manual should outline medication safety standards for staff. At a minimum, nursing homes are expected to:
Medication administration in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities is a multi-step process. A staff member checks the drug against the resident's chart to confirm the medication and dosage. Next, any supplies necessary for administering the drugs, such as syringes or dosing cups, are assembled. Then other preparatory steps, like mixing powdered medications or counting out pills, are taken if needed. Staff normally verify medication instructions at this point because errors most often creep into the process.
Many states require a nurse to administer medications to nursing home residents, but some will allow staff to help with medicines under a nurse's supervision. If administrators try to cut costs by keeping training levels to a minimum, this can lead to medication errors in nursing homes. Likewise, if staffing levels are inadequate and everyone is pressed for time, the pressure increases the risk of errors. Even the most dedicated nurses can't perform their duties properly without enough time and resources.
There are many possible reasons for medication errors, and the severity of the errors varies. For example, misreading medication orders or labels can lead to mistakes, as can miscommunication with pharmacists or doctors. Staff shortages are another major cause. They often lead to working under pressure, working without sufficient training, and making careless errors.
Why are some nursing homes understaffed? It's usually done to maximize profits. Administering medications to patients is one of the most time-consuming tasks for staff. Overworked staff can make mistakes, sometimes despite their best intentions.
Federal regulations make allowances for limited minor medication errors by nursing home staff. Minor mistakes can include:
A skilled nursing facility whose medication complication rate exceeds 5% will receive a health citation on its federal inspection.
More severe medication errors can lead to a health citation. For a patient, they can lead to severe complications, injury, or even death. Some examples of serious mistakes include:
Specific examples of medication errors in nursing homes include but are not limited to:
Even minor medication errors can produce side effects that may lead to injury. For example, a fall can result in minor injuries, often leading to bruises, internal bleeding, sprains, broken bones, or concussions. An undetected, untreated, minor injury can rapidly develop into a life-threatening injury.