legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
The nursing home staff can harm or kill residents when they improperly administer prescription drugs. Medications are usually administered in pill form, injection, or medication patch. Sadly, mistakes during drug administration can be catastrophic and can even lead to death.
A nursing home making medication errors might use tactics to deny a nursing staff member made a mistake or that their failure to administer the drugs correctly caused the resident's injury or death. The nursing home abuse attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC can offer legal help.
Schedule a free legal case review with our elder abuse attorneys at (800) 926-7565 today to discuss financial compensation to resolve your injury case.
While some medication errors might not be considered life-threatening, in some instances, long-term care facilities will either give the prescription medication incorrectly or will provide residents with the wrong form of medicine.
Medication administration errors could cause serious injury and place residents' lives in danger. Even worse, skilled nursing facilities might fail to give residents their drugs, putting them in jeopardy of physical harm.
Medication mistakes that injure or kill nursing home residents are legally actionable and might be evidence of negligence. You might be entitled to financial compensation if you can prove that your family member suffered an injury from a nursing facility's error.
What Causes Medication Errors in Nursing Homes?
Not all types of medication errors are the same. Federal regulations consider that nursing facilities might make minor medication errors in administering medications to their residents.
If their medication complication rate exceeds five percent, skilled nursing facilities will receive a health citation on their federal inspection.
Facilities that make occasional mistakes might not always be violating laws and regulations.
Here are some examples of minor medication errors that might fall within the five percent limit:
- Giving a medication a few minutes outside of the prescribed schedule
- Not giving the resident the last few drops of a medicine (underdose)
- Drug interactions
- Prescribing drugs contraindicated for the patient's underlying medical conditions
- Medical professionals do not correctly mix the medication or follow the correct instructions
One serious error is enough to lead to a health citation. If this error causes actual harm to patients, it could lead to a large fine for a nursing home. However, federal regulations do not permit a nursing facility to make severe errors in dispensing residents' medications.
Here are the most common medication errors that could lead to a health citation:
- Giving the resident the wrong medication
- Leaving the medication in a cup in front of patients and not verifying that it was taken
- Injecting medication into the wrong area
- Giving the patient expired medication
- Administering the wrong dosage of the medication
- Prescribing the incorrect medication
Statistics on Nursing Home Medication Errors
Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States are harmed from prescription drug medication errors every year.
It is estimated that 800,000 of those injuries occur in nursing homes, where the residents are elderly or infirm. Nearly a quarter of a million Americans die each year from medical mistakes.
While not all of these deaths result from negligence, they make up a large part of this total.
Why Drug Medication Errors Happen So Regularly in Nursing Homes
Training and staffing levels are two significant contributors to drug errors in elder care facilities. Many nursing homes, especially those owned by the largest chains, have been known to keep staffing levels low to maximize their profits.
Some homes cut staffing to dangerously low levels that do not allow them to provide the appropriate care level. Providing medications is one of the more time-intensive tasks that nurses have, and it takes up a large part of their day.
It can take up to 4 hours for a nursing home nurse to complete her drug run, depending on how many residents are on the nurse’s drug schedule and the time needed to administer the medicine. In many instances, a medication error is from nurse understaffing.
Given that medications must be administered within a specific timeframe and medication standards, overworked nurses might be rushing to give elderly patients their medications within the required time.
Inadequate Staff in Nursing Homes Sometimes Result in Medication Errors
Lack of staff members' training might also be a contributing factor. Different states have varying requirements for who might be allowed to give patients medications. Some states require that nurses be the ones who administer the medicine.
Other states allow additional staff to perform the function, albeit under the nurse's supervision, to ensure it is performed correctly. Yet mistakes can still happen.
Some facilities will also minimize training levels at times to maximize profitability. However, untrained CNAs or other staff might not have the necessary skills and abilities to adhere to this task's required level of precision.
Nursing Home Residents
It is crucial for nursing home residents to receive the correct medications at the right doses. A recent study found that nursing home patients are vulnerable to medication errors.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), surveyed more than 2,000 nursing home residents in the United States.
The study found that almost one-third of the nursing home patients surveyed had experienced a medication error in the previous month. The most common medication errors were incorrect doses (42 percent) and wrong medications (33 percent).
Medication Administration in Nursing Homes
Drug administration in a nursing home is an essential task that must be carried out correctly to ensure patient safety. Several steps must be followed to ensure that the medication is administered correctly.
The first step is to verify the medication order by checking the drug against the resident's chart to ensure that the medicine is correct and the correct dosage is administered.
The next step is to gather the supplies needed for administering the medication, including a syringe or another device for administering the medication and any other supplies needed, such as a dosing cup or medication aides.
The next step is to prepare the medication. It could include mixing the medication if it is in powder form. It is essential to be careful when counting out the pills or measuring the powder, as it is easy to make mistakes.
The next step is to recheck the medication to ensure that it is the correct medication and the dosage is accurate.
The final step is to administer the medication carefully, following the steps for administration. It is essential to be careful when administering the drug, as it is easy to make mistakes.
Medication Requirements for Elderly Persons
When it comes to medications, elderly persons have some specific drugs requirements that must be considered. Certain medications can be more dangerous for older patients, and the dosage and administration method may need to be adjusted.
A Medication Error in a Nursing Home
It can be scary when you or a loved one is admitted to a nursing home. You hope they will receive the best care. Recently, a family filed a lawsuit after their loved one suffered a medication error in a nursing home.
The error occurred when a nursing home staff member gave their loved one the wrong medication causing the individual to suffer a seizure and fall from their bed. As a result, the individual sustained significant injuries that required hospitalization.
A patient safety issue often overlooked is medication errors linked to nursing homes. These errors can occur when nurses give patients the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Safeguarding patient safety is of utmost importance.
Preventable adverse drug events frequently occur in nursing homes and result in substantial morbidity and mortality.
Seeking professional medical advice is always essential, but it is especially crucial when living in a nursing home. In addition, if you do not know how to pursue compensation, a free case review from a law firm may be vital.
Medication Safety Protocols in Nursing Homes
Medication safety is a critical issue for nursing home patients. Incorrect drug administration can lead to serious adverse events, including hospitalization and death.
Establishing medication safety protocols and ensuring that staff is properly trained in their use is essential to preventing nursing home medication errors. Common medication errors can be avoided with careful planning and communication among health care professionals.
Medication Management in Nursing Homes
Medication management is the process of organizing and overseeing the medication use of a person or group of people. It can be applied to patients in any care setting, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes.
Medication management goals ensure that patients receive safe and appropriate medication therapy. Improving medication safety is a critical part of providing high-quality care.
Nursing Home Neglect
Medication errors in nursing homes could be considered a form of neglect. Too often, elderly patients are not given the proper attention when their medications are being administered, leading to serious health problems or even death.
There are several warning signs that can indicate nursing home neglect. If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to speak up and get legal help.
Some common warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Unsanitary conditions or poor hygiene
- Medications not being given at the prescribed times or not administered at all
- Making the nursing homes patient swallow sublingual medications
- Inadequate food or nutrition
- Unsafe living conditions
- Untreated injuries or illnesses
- Neglectful or an abusive staff member
Medication Errors Reporting System in Nursing Homes
A reporting system for medication errors in nursing homes can help improve the quality of care for residents.
A reporting system would allow nurses and other caregivers to report any errors they make in providing medication to residents, which would help identify any patterns or trends in nursing home medication errors and allow healthcare professionals to take corrective action.
A reporting system would also help determine the root causes of medication errors, including incorrect orders from physicians, inadequate training of caregivers, and malfunctioning medical equipment.
By identifying and addressing the root causes of medication errors, a reporting system could help prevent mistakes from occurring. Therefore, a reporting system for medication errors in nursing homes is essential to improving the safety and well-being of residents.
Proven Claims in Nursing Home Medication Errors and Settlements for Severe Injuries and Wrongful Death
Below are some examples of successfully filed and resolved lawsuits with financial recoveries paid by nursing homes and insurers.
Jury Verdict for $1.4 million Against a Utah Nursing Home
A nurse gave the patient the incorrect medication. Instead of calling attention to the medication error and helping ensure that the nursing home resident was treated for the effects of the improper medication, the facility concealed what had happened, resulting in the resident's death.
Both the caregiver and the facility were found responsible for the death, and each party was apportioned payment of the jury's award. When the nurse declared bankruptcy, the facility was ordered to pay the entire verdict.
Jury Verdict for $1.5 million in New York
A nurse accidentally gave the patient a fatal dose of morphine they mixed with the resident's applesauce. The prescribed medication belonging to a different resident was mistakenly given to the decedent.
The deceased patient had resided in a portion of the nursing facility without an electronic medication monitoring system that was likely partially to blame for their death. The nurse had identified the resident, who had dementia, by asking him if his name was that of the resident who was supposed to receive the morphine.
Settlement for $50,000 in Pennsylvania
The nursing home staff was supposed to administer the resident their prescribed 5 mg daily of an antidepressant. However, a nursing home staff member made a clerical mistake and gave the elderly patient 20 mg (four times the dosage).
After a hospital stay, the resident returned to the facility and received antidepressant dosages of 40 mg per day, causing severe side effects.
The resident suffered from the medication mistake, which included increased tremors, forgetfulness, blurred vision, mobility problems, weight loss, and speech deficits.
Settlement for $375,000 in California
According to the nursing home negligence lawsuit, the staff members at the nursing home gave the plaintiff three doses of Risperdal, eight doses of Xanax, an injection of Haldol, an injection of Risperdal Consta, and seven doses of Ambien. The resident claimed that he was given these antipsychotic drugs against his will.
As a result of the medication, the resident suffered from delirium and short-term paralysis, resulting in a one-month hospital stay to treat these conditions. California law requires that the physician obtain informed consent from the resident before administering psychotropic medications.
Settlement for $850,000 in Illinois
A nursing home resident was awaiting a liver transplant that would be performed at a local hospital. The lawsuit claims that a nurse at the facility mistakenly administered the resident's roommate's medication to him, resulting in a hypoglycemic coma that caused the resident permanent brain damage.
The lawsuit further alleged that the nurse failed to tell the resident's physician of the medication error, which would have resulted in more timely treatment.
Verdict for $15,000,000 in North Carolina
The care home intentionally withheld the resident's prescribed morphine from him. Instead of giving him the medication necessary to ease his pain at the end of his life, the nursing facility administered a placebo, causing the dying resident pain and agony.
The resident was supposed to be administered morphine every three to four hours but received no morphine for three days.Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Home Drug Administration Error Injuries
Below are some frequently asked questions related to medication errors in nursing homes. Should you have additional questions, consult our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free legal case review to pursue financial aid.
Our medication errors lawyers understand that many families have lingering questions about medication errors in nursing homes. A nursing home abuse lawyer has answered some of those questions below.
Registered nurses and licensed nurses in nursing facilities make medical accidents through clinical oversight, a failure to provide the right drug or dosage, or not following a doctor's prescription to give the drug to the patient as ordered.
The caregiver must follow specific steps after making a medical mistake, including:
- Informing the patient and the patient's family of the significant clinical oversight
- Notifying the nursing home and care team to seek professional medical advice and prepare for an immediate adverse event involving the patient should it occur
- Document the mistake and report what happened to the facility's safety committee to prevent any further complications when providing the resident's care
Unfortunately, drug mistakes often occur in nursing homes settings. Nurses and licensed practical nurses can make serious errors when transcribing, dispensing, and administering drugs to patients whose care must always be prioritized.
Nurses must self-report any medication mistake to their supervisors, the Director of Nursing, and the facility. The Director must then report the incident to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and state surveyors within hours to ensure a comprehensive investigation is completed.
According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, medication errors involve "any preventable event that might cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer."
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) handles more than 100,000 reported cases of suspected drug medication errors each year. Many of these drug accidents involving nursing homes patients result in:
- Wrongful death
- Life-threatening situations
Nurses must follow established medication standards of care when administering medications to patients in nursing homes.
The nurses receive training to follow the 5 rights of medication administration. These 5 right rules are:
- Right patient
- Right drug
- Right dose
- Right route
- Right time
However, nurses can be negligent when they do not understand what was prescribed or do not appropriately administer the drug. The caregiver could also fail to document the drug administered and any adverse reactions, including allergies.
Receiving the wrong drug could create life-threatening consequences or temporary/permanent adverse reactions, including skin disfigurement, rashes, and itching. The patient might have irreversible brain damage or wrongful death in severe cases.
Any failure to administer the medication properly may be caused by:
- Lack of training
- No knowledge or experience with the drug
- A lack of communication between healthcare professionals
- Failing to understand the patient's medical history or other relevant patient information.
- Inadequate or limited policies, protocols, and procedures
- Failing to monitor and administer the medication appropriately
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately one-third of reported adverse drug events were caused by a medication mistake in a hospital or nursing home setting. The Journal of Patient Safety revealed that the nursing staff members understand the value of informing the facility of a medical mistake but are often conflicted about filing a report.
One study revealed that approximately one-fourth of all surveyed nurses admitted they failed to report a medication error the previous year. Some medical researchers believe a stigma associated with nurses causes significant problems when providing residents medications correctly.
While mistakes will occur in nursing home residents, the nursing facility's Nursing Director must hold the nurse accountable for their reckless behavior.
There is a strong chance that your loved one has experienced a medication error while living at a skilled nursing facility. You need a nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer who knows which medication errors are legally actionable and how to fight the nursing facility to pursue financial aid for your family.
The medication error attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center have a proven track record of standing up to the nursing centers and assisted-living facilities that harm residents and try to escape the consequences.
Call our law firm today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free legal case review. All discussions with our nursing home abuse lawyers remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Our nursing home abuse lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, so you don't have to pay us unless we win your case.