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Nursing Home Prescription Errors – Know The Signs

Placing someone you care about into a nursing home is a decision that nobody takes lightly. When you sign the papers, pack up their belongings and hand them over to the staff that will be providing them care, there is an overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss of control. Though you should always hope for the best, it is also important to be vigilant and cautious, as nursing home abuse and neglect happen all too frequently, and so do nursing home prescription errors. Mistakes in dosing and distributing medications have reached epidemic proportions in nursing homes throughout the country, so it is important that you are familiar with the signs and know what to do in case any of them begin to emerge.

There are countless reasons why medication errors take place so frequently in nursing home settings. Studies have shown that nursing home patients are frequently prescribed multiple drugs, with 68 percent of long-term care patients receiving nine or more medications per day, and one third receiving twenty or more.  Combine the volume of medications with the fact that patients are often unable to communicate and staff is often overworked and undertrained, and it is a recipe for disaster. One study has determined that approximately half of all adverse drug events are caused by medication errors, and it is these events that family members need to be on the lookout for. Adverse drug events can include:

  • Falls
  • Fractures
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Incontinence
  • Delirium
  • Behavior problems

The types of mistakes that lead to medication errors include lack of proper assessment of the resident, lack of monitoring of the patient for either effectiveness of the drug or negative side effects, lack of recognition on the part of the staff of adverse drug reactions, and attributing symptoms of adverse drug reactions to other causes.

The problems of providing medications to nursing home patients are varied. Physicians may be unaware of the various drugs that a patient is taking, or unable to keep up with the many patients in their charge and the possibility of drug interactions that may take place in a population that is taking so many medications. There are also problems with the general management of distributing, administering and monitoring medications. Drugs are frequently mistaken for one another, incorrect dosages are delivered, and lack of communication among staff members may lead to residents skipping doses or receiving double doses of medicines.

The regulations that govern nursing homes require that great care is taken with administering medication to this fragile population. There are strategies available for improving the situation, including implementing process and tools for documentation, increased efficiency and controls, but nursing homes often forego these options due to cost considerations. This leaves residents at risk, and family members responsible for keeping a careful eye on how their loved one is responding and reacting within the nursing home setting.

If you have concerns that your loved one is the victim of nursing home prescription errors, it is important that you act quickly. The compassionate lawyers at Jonathan Perkins Attorneys At Law have extensive experience in protecting the rights of nursing home and long-term care residents, and we can help your loved one too.

Learn more about Nursing Home Prescription Errors here:  https://800perkins.com/what-we-do/nursing-home-abuse/