Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Medication errors result in some of the most easily preventable injuries in nursing homes across the nation and most of these errors are the result of systematic negligence or a lack of attention paid to detail. The nursing home abuse attorneys of Nursing Home Law Center LLC find that there is little excuse for the administration of the wrong medications or doses to patients when there is a multi-layered system in place to prevent these incidents from occurring. While most of the injuries that result are minor, some patients can suffer catastrophic harm simply because those responsible for their care failed to do their due diligence.Multiple Layers of Protection Meant to Prevent Errors
Most people are unaware of just how many people are involved in the process by which a medication is prescribed, filled and then administered to a patient. Our nursing home injury lawyers always examine this chain when investigating a case involving medication errors to determine at what point things went wrong and which people along the way failed to prevent the wrong medication or dose from being administered to the patient. Following are all of the people typically involved in the prescription and administration process and their individual roles and responsibilities.
The prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner — in too many instances, the doctor or practitioner who prescribes medication to patients is overburdened and in a hurry. This could be due to low staff levels— forcing existing staff members to rush from patient to patient in order to take care of everyone under their care. It is the responsibility of the person prescribing the medication to weigh the potential risks associated with the medication with any potential side effects or adverse events that could result from its administration. This includes making sure that the medication prescribed will not interact with other medications or the patient’s diet.
The pharmacist filling the prescription — pharmacists are the perfect intermediary between the doctor and patient because they are trained to detect potential problems and to question doctors about drug interactions and possible alternatives. They may fill the prescription incorrectly, however, by providing the wrong medication or dose. Where they become a strong link in the chain of protection, they can also become a weakness if their errors go unnoticed by the person responsible for administering the medication.
The nurse or caregiver administering the medication — it is the responsibility of the caregiver to check the work of both the doctor and pharmacist by making sure that the prescription was filled according to the doctor’s wishes and that the dose and medication is correct. Many caregivers working in understaffed facilities simply lack the time to check every single medication and may simply administer meds without making sure the prescriptions have been filled correctly. They may also provide patients medications in the wrong form, at the wrong times or in incorrect dosages.
The patient receiving the medication — unless the patient is unable to participate in his or her care due to neurological disorders or other disabilities, he or she should be able to understand why certain medications have been prescribed and how they are to be dispensed. Many patients are wrongfully embarrassed at the thought of questioning their caregivers when they are administering medications and it is entirely within their rights to verify that the medications being administered are correct.
Patients are often placed on more medications as they age and required to stay on these medications for a longer period of time. Polypharmacy is a term our Chicago nursing home injury lawyers use to refer to the prescription of multiple different medications for the same patient. Greater exposure to polypharmacy increases the chances that a patient will experience an adverse drug interaction or be injured due to a medication error. His or her caregiver is more prone to administer the medications at the wrong time or frequency and the doctor may prescribe medications without verifying they are safe.
In one study conducted abroad with patients taking an average of nine medications per day, it was revealed that 93.5% of those patients had been prescribed at least one non-evidence-based medication. This means that the medication was not prescribed based on effective research, interaction with the patient and clinical expertise. The study also revealed that a staggering 56.2% of patients were given the wrong dose of medication at some point during their treatment.
Medication errors most often result in minor side effects or discomfort, but some of the medications prescribed to the elderly have the potential to cause serious injury if not administered properly. For example, an excessive amount of anti-clotting medication can cause life threatening internal bleeding and the incorrect dose of blood pressure medication can cause the heart to stop beating. When these errors cause the injury or death of a patient, the people responsible should be held liable to both the patient and family for damages.A Leader in Quality Legal Services Related to Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing Home Law Center LLC has long provided award-winning legal services and advice to countless clients across the United States for many years and has a special legal team dedicated solely to representing those who have been injured due to poor nursing care. Our extensive knowledge of the law, access to medical specialists and social workers and successful experience trying similar cases in the past allow us to provide you with the greatest chance of recovering the compensation to which you are entitled.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medication error in a nursing home, contact us today to arrange a risk-free and confidential consultation with one of our highly qualified nursing home abuse attorneys. Once we have gathered all of the information we need, we can conduct a thorough investigation to determine which parties are liable for you or your loved one’s injuries and advise you on your legal options and how best to proceed. If for any reason at all we are unable to recover compensation on your behalf, you are guaranteed that our services won’t cost you a thing.Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources