Subject to Medication Errors in a Nursing Home? Here is What to Do Next
Unsurprisingly, errors in administering medications to older adults occur in nursing homes, with the increasing number of residents admitted into long-term care facilities in recent years. Unfortunately, these mistakes can cause serious consequences for the elderly due to their age and physical condition, which are both factors that make them more vulnerable to harm from medication mistakes.
These errors can lead to severe complications such as allergic reactions, adverse drug interactions, or even death in extreme cases. These mistakes present a significant risk to seniors’ health and safety and emotionally impact families who feel guilt or responsibility for not protecting their loved ones from these risks.
Common Causes of Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Medication errors in nursing homes are a serious issue that can have grave consequences, particularly for elderly individuals who may be more vulnerable to the effects of these mistakes. While there are many potential causes of such errors, some of the most common include improper dosage administration, wrong medications being administered to patients, and improper labeling of medications.
Omission of Medication
The most common error when it comes to medication administration in nursing homes is medication omission, which occurs when medication is not given to a resident for any reason. This can happen due to staffing shortages, miscommunication between staff members, or lack of oversight by the medical team regarding medication administration. It accounts for over 30% of medication errors in nursing homes and can lead to issues like medication toxicity, medication underdosing, and medication nonadherence. When seniors require medication to maintain their health, medication omission can have serious consequences.
In terms of improper dosage, it is essential that all healthcare staff administering medications are aware of the recommended dose for a particular patient’s age and medical condition. The incorrect quantity or frequency of medication can negatively impact a patient’s health. In addition, if drugs interact with each other in dangerous ways due to incorrect dosages, this could even lead to death in extreme cases.
Wrong Medication Administered to Patients
Another common cause of medication errors is when the wrong medication is administered to patients due to misunderstanding or mislabeling while filling prescriptions. This can happen when staff members become confused by high-volume workloads and complex instructions regarding different drugs. It is important that they are properly trained and take time to read instructions carefully and double-check any labels before dispensing the medication.
Improper Labeling of Medications
Finally, one issue that often leads to mistakes is inadequate or improper labeling of medications. This can also be an issue when prescriptions are re-bottled or not stored in their original containers. Prescriptions should always be labeled accurately to ensure staff can easily identify a particular patient’s correct medication and dosage. If there isn’t enough information about how a specific drug should be taken or what potential side effects might occur, then this creates an additional risk. Therefore, all relevant information must be clearly printed on medication labels so nursing home staff can make informed decisions about the proper administration for each patient.
Signs That You May Have Been Subject To a Medication Error
If you or a loved one have been subjected to medication errors, then it is crucial that the issue is addressed promptly and may require the help of an Illinois nursing home abuse attorney if negligence is at play. While it can be challenging to recognize these errors due to their complexity, there are some red flags that may indicate the presence of an issue.
One of the most common signs that a person may have been subject to a medication error would be unexpected changes in behavior or symptoms — especially if they were not present previously. For instance, if an elderly patient begins having sudden bouts of dizziness despite not reporting any prior issues, this could indicate an incorrect dosage was administered.
Other potential signs include unusual side effects not listed on the prescription label. For example, if a drug’s label states only “mild nausea” as a side effect, but the patient is experiencing more severe symptoms like vomiting or abdominal pain, then this could suggest they were given too high of a dosage or that their body is reacting differently from what was expected by the prescribing doctor.
Steps To Take If You Suspect a Medication Error Was Made
If you or a loved one suspects a medication error has been made, then it is important to take action immediately. But how to report nursing home neglect in Illinois, including improper medication administration, can be complicated.
The best course of action is to first report any suspicious events or behaviors to the staff members at the nursing home. This provides an opportunity for them to review the situation and take steps to ensure it does not happen again.
In addition, it is also important to document as much information as possible related to the suspected error, including details such as the date and time of the event, if applicable. This can be extremely helpful if it becomes necessary to file a formal complaint regarding negligence or inadequate care. Furthermore, keeping notes can help individuals remember exact details about what happened, which may be helpful during follow-up discussions with healthcare personnel.
Finally, seeking legal advice from experienced lawyers who specialize in healthcare rights and nursing home abuse may also be beneficial in some cases. These professionals will know how state laws pertain to medication errors and can advise clients on their rights and potential courses of action when facing this situation.
Holding Negligent Caregivers Accountable for Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Holding negligent caregivers accountable for medication errors can be a long and difficult process, but it is possible with the help of experienced legal professionals. These experts have the knowledge to guide individuals through the process and arm them with the information they need to make informed decisions.
It is crucial to start by contacting an attorney immediately after identifying a suspected error. This will allow plenty of time for the lawyer to investigate all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the error. Furthermore, legal counsel will be able to handle any issues that arise while filing complaints or seeking compensation from liable parties.
How Families Can Help Protect Loved Ones from Medication Mistakes
Medication errors can be an unfortunate reality when in nursing home care. Still, families can take steps to help protect their loved ones from experiencing adverse effects. Monitoring the administration of medications closely and speaking up if something appears to be wrong is essential. Familiarizing yourself with your loved ones’ prescriptions and observing them for any changes in health or behavior can also be beneficial. It is also essential to understand the legal rights of those living in nursing homes and take necessary action if negligence is suspected.
Finally, although it may feel intimidating to confront nursing home personnel about potential mistakes, doing so could make all the difference in protecting a loved one from further harm. Taking prompt and decisive action by gathering evidence and finding an experienced lawyer to represent your interests is key. Unfortunately, it may not always be possible to avoid medication errors. Still, with the proper guidance, individuals can more effectively hold negligent caregivers accountable for any misrepresentations or mistakes that have been made.