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Medication Errors In Nursing Homes

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.

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Call us at (866) 907-1145 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.

How Can a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Help Me?

Medication Errors In Nursing Homes

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:

Gathering Evidence

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.

How Much Does a Nuring Home Abuse Lawyer Cost?

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 Responsibilities of a Nursing Home to its Residents

Medication Errors In Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outline 17 rights for nursing home residents. According to federal law, all residents have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect
  • Participate in activities
  • Be free from discrimination
  • Be free from abuse and neglect
  • Be free from restraints
  • Make complaints
  • Get proper medical care
  • Have your representative notified
  • Get information on services and fees
  • Get appropriate privacy, property, and living arrangements
  • Spend time with visitors
  • Get social services
  • Leave the nursing home
  • Have protection against unfair transfer or discharge
  • Form or participate in resident groups
  • Have your family and friends involved

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.

Requirements For Administering Medication in Nursing Homes

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:

  • Prioritize patient safety
    Know the patient's medical history
    Keep records of a patient's medications
    Administer medications properly to every resident
    Inform a patient's family when prescribing new medications
    Respond promptly to any exhibited side effects
    Follow all error reporting guidelines

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.

Why Do Medication Errors in Nursing Homes Happen

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:

  • Medication administered outside of the required schedule, even by a few minutes
  • Slight under-doses
  • Incorrectly mixed medications
  • Minor drug interactions
  • Prescriptions for medication contraindicated by the patient's underlying medical conditions

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:

  • Administering the wrong medication
  • Not confirming that a patient has taken their medications
  • Incorrect injection site
  • Administering expired medication
  • Giving an incorrect dosage of medication
  • Prescribing an incorrect medication

Specific examples of medication errors in nursing homes include but are not limited to:

  • Failure to give medication
  • Medications administered without reviewing side effects
  • Drugs were given at the wrong time
  • Improperly prepared medications
  • Incorrect dosages
  • Incorrect feeding tube nutrition formulas
  • Improper oral administration (sublingual v. swallowed medicine)
  • Cutting or breaking a pill meant to be taken whole
  • Failure to detect IV malfunctions
  • Incorrect medications given
  • Failure to give antibiotics for bed sores
  • Failure to provide food or liquids with medications requiring it
  • Failure to ensure that residents have taken medication correctly
  • Failure to inform the patient's family before giving new medications

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.

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Call us at (866) 907-1145 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.
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