Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

In any given nursing home, the faculty is responsible for administering thousands of medications to elderly residents. Despite efforts to improve organization and communication in nursing homes, medication errors persist throughout the United States. Studies show that residents at long-term care facilities are at higher risks of medication errors than in other circumstances. If you believe your elderly loved one suffered an injury or wrongful death due to this mistake in a nursing home, seek help from a local Kansas City nursing home abuse lawyer.

Common Types of Medication Errors

According to one study that looked at 13 long-term care facilities in England over a three-month period, 90% of residents faced exposure to at least one medication error. This shocking statistic shows a marked need to improve administrative training and methods. Mistakes occurred 1.43 times more often in nursing homes compared to residential homes. The most common types of nursing home medication errors include:

  • Wrong time. The most common medication error according to the study was an attempt to administer the drugs at the wrong time (45%). Giving drugs at the wrong time can lead to an overdose of the medication, or administering it too late to prevent or manage serious symptoms.
  • Wrong medication. Administering the wrong medication can lead to a resident failing to receive the drugs he or she desperately needs. It can also lead to adverse reactions to the incorrect drug, or even fatal drug interactions.
  • Wrong resident. During the study, more than half (52%) of residents were victims of serious errors such as medication administration to the incorrect resident. This mistake can be fatal, as the resident may have a deadly adverse reaction to the incorrect drug.

According to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, nursing facilities must follow a few key provisions in drug therapy in the nursing home setting. One such provision is to ensure that the medication error rate does not exceed 5%. Nursing homes must work with licensed pharmacists to establish a record-keeping system that tracks the administration of all controlled substances. Failure to obey industry rules and standards regarding medication administration, leading to resident injury, illness, or death, is negligence.

What to Do About a Nursing Home Medication Error

It can be difficult to pinpoint a medication error as the cause of your loved one’s adverse outcomes. Nursing home residents often have a variety of conditions that require multiple types of medication every day. At first, a nurse may misdiagnose an adverse drug reaction. It often requires an investigation of the drug administration process at the care facility to discover a medication error and identify it as the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages. As soon as you suspect a drug-related mistake contributed to a loved one’s harms, speak to a knowledgeable Kansas City personal injury attorney.

Medication errors in nursing homes happen more often than most people would like to believe. Most of these mistakes are preventable and stem from negligence. While switching from a paper-based system to an electronic database can reduce the risk of medication errors in nursing homes, it does not eliminate the risk completely. Nurses and other staff members must pay attention to what they’re doing and double-check all imperative facts before administering any medications.

Victims of nursing home medication mistakes may be able to sue the facility or the individual on the grounds of medical malpractice or professional negligence. If the courts decide that another reasonable and prudent entity would not have made the same mistake under similar circumstances, the defendant may be guilty of negligence. In these cases, the facility or individual responsible for the harms may have to pay the victim’s damages, including medical bills and pain and suffering. For more information about this type of personal injury case, contact a local Kansas City attorney.