While it is the responsibility of a doctor to prescribe medications for nursing home patients, the daily task of administering the medication falls squarely on the shoulders of the nursing home staff. Nursing home staff have a duty to both administer the proper medication– at the interval prescribed— to each patient.
Not surprisingly when patients get the wrong medication or it is not timely given the results can be catastrophic. As a nursing home lawyer, I was disturbed to hear of a Connecticut nursing home where the staff withheld medications from a broad cross-section of patients at the large skilled nursing facility.
As reported in the New Haven Independent, surveyors from the Connecticut Department of Health found 18 cases where patients were not given the proper medication to patients at Regency Heights of Danielson. Most of the identified problems involved patients with serious conditions such as congestive heart failure, seizures and hypertension.
In one case involving a diabetic patient, staff at Regency Heights failed to provide the patient with Glucophage (a medication used to control blood glucose levels) at least 72 times over a seven month period.
While no serious patient injuries or death were directly attributed to these medication errors, the facility has taken corrective actions to help reduce the chances of these events occurring again. In addition, the Regency Heights facility has been fined $3,000.
Monitoring Diabetic Nursing Home Patients
Nursing home patients with diabetes must be monitored on a regular basis to ensure that their blood sugar levels remain safe. Proper monitoring of diabetics should consist of not only monitoring their blood sugar levels and diet, but the medical staff must also keep track of how the residents look and behave. Special attention should be paid to residents who experience: frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, unusual aches or vision problems.
However for patients who are on diabetic medication, such as Glucophage, must be given their medication as prescribed in order to prevent serious complications such as: Hyperglycemia or Hypoglycemia
Hyperglycemia develops when there is too much sugar in the blood (glucose > 180mg/dl). Hyperglycemia may be caused by skipping insulin does, infection or illness. Prolonged hyperglycemia can result in infection, slow-healing cuts and sores, vision problems, nerve damage in arms and legs, chronic constipation and death.
Hypoglycemia develops when blood sugar levels fall (glucose < 70mg/dl). Like hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia may develop when insulin is not timely administered or if the dosage is too high. Hypoglycemia may lead to serious medical complications such as coma or death.
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