Because of many residents’ reliance on medications, it is critically important for nursing home staff to dispense the proper medication, give the correct amount, and comply with required standards to protect residents from medication errors. Unfortunately, not all staff members are as careful as they need to be. Medication errors in nursing homes are all too common. However, just because they are common does not mean you cannot hold the nursing home responsible for their mistakes.
If your loved one has been injured at a nursing home, call Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., LPA to discuss your case with a nursing home abuse attorney: 419-843-6663.
Types of medication errors in nursing homes
Common medication errors that occur in nursing homes include:
- Failure to give the correct type of medication
- Failure to give the correct dosage
- Failure to give medication at the correct time
- Giving medication to the wrong person
- Improper preparation of medication
- Improper administration of medication
- Administering expired medication
- Using a medication similar — but not identical — to the one prescribed
How do medication errors happen in nursing homes?
Nursing home medical personnel administer medication at certain regular times. This means that one person or a team is likely administering many different medications to many different residents at the same time.
This can lead to host of errors if:
- Staff members misread or misinterpret medication orders.
- The medication orders themselves contained errors.
- Staff members do not properly prepare the medications. This can include not following the instructions that come with the medications, such as ignoring instructions not to crush, split, or slice a certain medication.
- Mixing up the medications in the process of organizing the cart.
- The person administering the medications picks up the wrong medication from the cart.
- Ignoring instructions that state the resident is to take the medication with or without food.
- Ignoring potential drug or food interactions (e.g., drinking grapefruit juice and taking a cholesterol-lowering medication can cause a major interaction)
- Failure to remove all air bubbles from a medication in a syringe
How can a medication error harm a nursing home resident?
When medication errors happen, they can cause harm in the following ways:
- Misreading or misinterpreting medication orders in the resident’s chart can result in giving the resident the wrong kind of medication or the wrong dosage or giving the medication at the wrong time intervals (e.g., giving the medication every two hours instead of twice a day).
- Not following medication preparation instructions can make the medication ineffective or could damage organs. (e.g., some medications take effect in certain organs or on a time-release schedule. These medications may have a coating that ensures they break down in the proper location in the body, and at the proper pace. Crushing the medication could make the coating ineffective.)
- Mixing up medications can lead to residents to take the wrong medication and not receiving the necessary one.
- Air bubbles injected into a resident’s vein, artery, or IV bag can cause an air embolism. Air embolisms can cause heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure.
Who is liable for medication errors in nursing homes?
The law holds nursing homes to a high standard of care in the administration of medications, because so much harm can occur from medication errors.
If a medication error happened at a nursing home, whether by negligence or intentional act, and the nursing home did not live up to its standard of care, the nursing home can be liable.
If the error occurred because a doctor prescribed the wrong medication, the doctor will be at fault. However, the nursing home might also be at fault in this situation if the pharmacist at the nursing home knew that the prescribed medication could have an adverse effect and filled it anyway.
What should I do if my loved one was injured at a nursing home?
Proving a medical error personal injury case against a nursing home can be very difficult, as the nursing home controls much of the evidence needed to prove your claim.
The proof you need will likely be in the resident’s file and chart, the nursing notes, the medication records, and other nursing home records. Even though your loved one has a legal right to see all her medical records, do not expect the nursing home to hand over the records voluntarily, especially if your loved one has suffered significant harm as a result of the medication error.
You should seek the advice of a knowledgeable nursing home medication errors lawyer if your loved one has been harmed by a medication error at a nursing home.
Your lawyer will guide you through the complicated process of notifying the proper authorities and filing a claim against the nursing home. Your lawyer will navigate the tricky path of obtaining the evidence needed to prove your case.
The team at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. has decades of experience handling nursing home abuse and medication error claims and knows what these cases need to succeed.
Call today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case: 419-843-6663.