The discussion on administration of medication at assisted living facilities at Inside Assisted Living, caught my attention. Inside Assisted Living is an extremely useful blog dedicated to helping residents and their families transition into assisted living facilities. A reader of the blog asked:
‘Ryan, my parents are now in an Assisted Living Community. I’ve been told that they must turn over administration of their meds to the Nurse. Problem is, that there is constantly problems with the meds given by the nurse, ie. meds from another patient, not given at proper time, cannot identify the pill, not all prescriptions given. They tell me that this is a Federally mandated law that my parents cannot self administer, is this true?’
Ryan, the blog administrator gives some excellent advice when addressing this frequently encountered situation dealing with medication errors. If the resident of an assisted living facility is capable of administering medication, they should generally be able to do so. I must agree, with Ryan that once a facility takes on an important responsibility, such as the administering medication they must do so in a safe manner.
If an assisted living facility or nursing home is dispensing the wrong medication or is administering the doses at improper intervals, the situation should be brought to the attention of the facility administrator and / or the state department of public health.
Studies have shown that medication errors occur with up to 50% of nursing home and long-term care residents. The following are important criteria to evaluate to assure your loved one is the the recipient of a medication error.
Review each medication with a physician 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
Bottom line is that given the frequency of medication errors and the serious medical complications that may arise from their complications it is best to speak up immediately if you suspect even a minor deviation from the physician prescribed medical protocol.