Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

April 17, 2023

Individuals in nursing homes and other types of assisted living facilities should be able to depend on nurses and other staff members for quality care. Unfortunately, there are times when medication errors are made, and this can lead to significant long-term health consequences or even death. Here, we want to discuss nursing home medication errors, how they happen, and whether or not nursing home victims have any recourse.

How Nursing Home Medication Errors Occur

Nearly every individual inside of an assisted living facility is on some type of medication. Often, these medications are 100% necessary for sustaining life, while other individuals only need medication for things like topical pain. Regardless of the emergency or non-emergency need for a medication, errors can occur that affect the life of the recipient.

All medical professionals responsible for dispensing medications inside of a nursing home must ensure that they give a patient the correct medication as well as the correct dosage of their medication. They must also ensure that these medications are given in a timely manner in a schedule set forth based on the prescription given by a doctor.

A study published in Qual Saf Health Care examined incidents of nursing home medication errors. Their study consisted of 25 nursing homes, and 23 of the sites reported medication errors. 8% of these errors were classified as having a serious impact on the patient. The study discovered that the most common errors associated with nursing home patient medications included:

  • Overdosing
  • Administering the medication to the wrong patient
  • Giving an incorrect medication
  • Giving an incorrect dosage strength

Overall, most medication errors occurred during the administration of the medication, and approximately half of the errors were attributed to basic human error. Some of the errors involved in this study revolved around medications that are incredibly harmful when given at the incorrect dosage, including lorazepam, warfarin, furosemide, hydrocodone, fentanyl, insulin, and oxycodone.

In addition to the incorrect administration of medications, equally as dangerous is the failure to dispense medications at all. Sometimes, this is due to neglect towards a patient, including staff members failing to uphold their basic duty of care to the residents under their purview.

Can Residents or Their Families File a Lawsuit?

In the event a nursing home resident receives the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a medication, they may be able to recover compensation through a lawsuit against the negligent medical provider and facility. In many cases, these lawsuits are brought with the assistance of family members and an attorney devoted to helping nursing home medication error victims.

If the medication mistake causes an injury, illness, or another type of monetary loss, it may be possible to recover compensation for medical bills, relocation to a new facility, court costs and legal fees, and pain and suffering damages arising as a result of the error.

We strongly encourage any person who has been harmed by a medication error in a nursing home, or a family member of someone who experienced an error, to reach out to a Martinsburg medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. These claims must be thoroughly investigated, and it will likely be necessary to work with trusted medical and economic experts in order to build the case.

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