Recently, I discussed medication errors in nursing homes. Every nursing home resident I have seen is on some type of medication or vitamin supplement. The likelihood of suffering an injury due to a medication error is higher than almost any type of treatment rendered in a nursing home. How can you prevent the medication errors from occurring?
Jeffery Levine, M.D., author of, Medical-Legal Aspects of Long Term Care, has put together a list for preventing medication errors and adverse drug reactions. Dr. Levine provides the necessary information for a family member to evaluate potential errors in the administration of medication. I highly recommend this book. Inspired by Dr. Levine, here is a listing of recommendations applicable to every nursing home and hospital patient.
Review each medication to determine its necessity
- Make sure the list of medications is complete
- Identify the condition for which each medication is prescribed
- Determine the potential for any drug vs. drug interactions
- Determine potential for any drug vs. disease interactions
- Can the drug regimen be simplified?
- Are there any new, safer drugs available to substitute with current medication?
- Is it possible to discontinue any medication?
New medication tips
- Is the diagnosis correct?
- Can the condition be treated without medication?
- Can a lower dosage be used?
- Could the symptoms be related to another medication?
- Can one drug be used to treat multiple conditions?
Inappropriate medication use
- Don’t try to treat every condition. It is impossible to treat every physical condition
- Don’t try to treat the side effects of medications
- Try to have one physician prescribe all medications
- Make sure each all physicians involved in a patients treatment are aware of each other
Clearly, the most important preventative measure is to take an active role in the care of your loved one. Making regular, unscheduled visits is suggested. Do not be afraid to ask questions from those who have a role in the dispensing of medications. A clarification may prevent an episode of injury down the road.