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Failure To Provide Medication Is A Common Error In Nursing Homes

Failure to provide medication is a common problem facing nursing home residents.  Many situations involving failure to provide medication result from problems with the transition of a resident’s medical charts from a hospital or facility where they were prior to their admission to the nursing home.  Nonetheless, nursing homes have a responsibility to provide quality care to their residents.  This includes conducting an assessment upon admission to assure all medical needs are met.

Yesterday’s blog entry on the untimeliness of administration of medication reminded me of a case my office is working on.  In our case, a Chicago-area nursing home failed to provide insulin to our diabetic client for several months.  As a result of this nursing home neglect, our client went into Diabetic Ketoacidosis.  Diabetic Ketoacidosis, is a life-threatening condition that develops when diabetics do not get enough sugar into their cells.  The lack of sugar results in the development of fatty acids which cause chemical imbalance.  iStock_000004270903XSmall

Diabetic Ketoacidosis can be detected by monitoring the level of sugar in the blood and urinalysis. Diabetic Ketoacidosis may also be accompanied by:

  • Flushed, hot, dry skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breath smelling of vinegar or alcohol
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion

If the Diabetic Ketoacidosis is left untreated, the condition may cause brain damage or death.  Unlike other situations involving medication errors, injuries due to failure to administer medication are completely preventable and result from nursing home staff neglect.

For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.

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