Numerous studies say medication errors in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are common and responsible for many preventable injuries.
Medication errors may include giving the wrong medicine to a patient, incorrect dosages or doses at incorrect intervals.
There are many potentially serious consequences of medication errors, especially among nursing home residents who are ill, infirm or otherwise fragile due to advanced age.
Many nursing home residents live in such facilities partly because they need professional help with taking medications.
Nursing homes have a specific duty to ensure the safety of their residents. When they fail this duty and a resident is injured – such as because of a medication error – the nursing home and staff members involved may be held liable. If you believe your loved one has been injured because of a negligent medication error in a nursing home or a similar long-term care facility, Joye Law Firm can help you obtain proper medical assistance as well as compensation.
Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our online contact form for a free and confidential review of your nursing home claim.
Nursing Home Residents Harmed by Medication Errors
A recent study by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concluded that 1-in-3 patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection or some other type of harm related to their treatment.
The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCCMERP) defines a medication error as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient or consumer.”
The NCCMERP says such errors may be related to:
- Procedures and systems for prescribing and administering medication.
- Order communication and dispensing of medications.
- Product packaging, labeling and nomenclature (medical/scientific names).
- Compounding (combining drugs).
- Education of those handling medications.
- Failure to monitor the use of medications.
- How medications are used, such as off-label or unapproved uses.
Any medication can be administered incorrectly or improperly and may cause harm to the recipient. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), for example, says misuse of powerful antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is of great concern.
More than half of U.S. nursing facility residents suffer from some form of dementia, the ASCP says. Behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD) can pose significant challenges in nursing homes that are often best treated with non-pharmacologic measures, such as environmental modifications. But more than 25 percent of patients with BPSD receive antipsychotic medication, according to the ASCP.
Antipsychotics are appropriate for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, and sometimes for BPSD. “However,” the ASCP says, “they are often used inappropriately in nursing facilities to treat BPSD, and evidence documenting their clinical efficacy for BPSD is variable.”
Another problem is the repetition of medication errors. A study by the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that more than 37 percent of the 15,000 errors reported by 294 nursing homes were repeated one or more times. Wrong dosage and wrong administration were the most frequently repeated errors.
The researchers found that repeated errors are more likely to cause harm than single mistakes, and that repeated errors were most likely among older nursing home residents or residents who were unable to direct their own care.
We Can Help If You Suspect Medication Errors At a S.C. Nursing Home
Joye Law Firm can help if you are dealing with injuries suffered because of a medication error in a South Carolina nursing home.
Too often, family members find out that a loved one has been injured in a nursing home long after the incident. Sometimes nursing home residents are unable to understand or explain how they were hurt.
Repeated medication errors may have a detrimental effect that is only slowly realized. This makes it easier for a nursing home to hide or deny liability for medication errors. But an independent investigation of your loved one’s medical decline and a lawsuit on the resident’s behalf may prompt a nursing home to take your concerns seriously. Just hearing from a nursing home abuse attorney with experience in South Carolina may make a nursing home staff respond to your concerns, including resolving problems and accepting liability for injury-related expenses.
The lawyers of Joye Law Firm can help you obtain an independent medical examination if you suspect a loved one has received substandard medical care, including medication errors, in a South Carolina nursing home. We can pursue any valid claim available. Our objective is to obtain appropriate care and compensation for the harmed resident, and to put a halt to the nursing home’s negligence.
Call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our contact form for a free and confidential discussion of your legal options.
- ProPublica – One Third of Skilled Nursing Patients Harmed in Treatment
- National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention – What is a Medication Error?
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists – Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Facility Residents
- National Institutes of Health (PubMed.gov) – Repeat medication errors in nursing homes: Contributing factors and their association with patient harm.