Medication Errors Harm Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

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If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your loved one in your visit to her in a nursing home if may have left you feeling uneasy or afraid.  Sudden changes can be the result of a number of interconnected factors—aging, loneliness, and medical conditions—to name a few. But in some cases, the problem is much more nefarious. How could you possibly know that the altered behavior or health condition of your loved one is directly attributable to medication errors?  If you suspect as much, speaking to an attorney who is versed in such matters could be a smart move.

Common Medication Errors

While minor errors in the preparation and dispensing of medication are to be expected from time to time, consistent or serious mistakes are not. Some of the ways in which errors might occur include:

  • Attempting to split a tablet or capsule in half when instructions clearly indicate the medication should never be crushed;
  • Failing to provide the proper amount of fluids along with the medication, leading to dehydration and potential risks with the medicine;
  • Failing to take the prescription along with food;
  • Neglecting to provide required antacids along with certain medications;
  • Disregarding instructions to shake or properly mix medications, putting the patient at risk of receiving too high or too low a dose of the medicine;
  • Failing to use enteral nutrition formulas in conjunction with medications;
  • Ignoring the possibility that eye drops were not actually applied in the eye of patients, or that they remained in contact with the eye for the proper amount of time;
  • Failing to prepare and position metered dose inhalers and monitor their use; and
  • Ignoring issues related to the swallowing of sublingual tablets.

Negligent Errors

More often than you might think, errors are made by overworked staff who are simply spread too thin.  With unexpected emergencies or changes in routines, it’s not hard to imagine a staff member being distracted, leading to some of the most common types of negligent administration errors:

  • Omitting a dose;
  • Double dosing;
  • Providing medication that has expired;
  • Making errors in documentation; and
  • Experiencing problems related to lab results.

Malpractice Concerns

Any number of reckless acts could lead to questions of actual medical malpractice.  In particular, this might include the following types of issues:

  • The blatant, purposeful disregard of orders related to medications;
  • Improper management of medications, including the failure to renew prescriptions and/or accurately record medication information;
  • The borrowing of medications from one patient to another; and
  • Diverting medications for the personal use of staff.

Serious Issues

Medication issues in nursing homes can be extremely serious.  Because 1.5 million of our loved ones reside in nursing homes at any given time, medication issues have the potential to be far-reaching.  If your elderly family member has suffered and you believe medication errors are the culprit, the knowledgeable team at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can help. Schedule a free, confidential consultation in our Greenville office today.

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