Lever & Ecker, PLLC August 11, 2016 General
Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote, “Age has no reality except in the physical world.” For many, this is true. As they age, they find that at heart they are still young but their body needs additional, round-the-clock care. Frequently, that care is given to them by nurses and physicians in nursing homes.
These patients chose to live in a nursing home for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being that they don’t want to burden their loved ones and so they place themselves into the hands of professionals. Sadly, these men and women who are charged with the elderly’s well-being regularly make medication errors that can make their patients sicker or even kill them.
Thanks to scientific progress, there are thousands of medications available both over the counter (OTC) and by prescription for nearly every disease known to man. In nursing homes, the most common medical conditions that are treated include:
While it is marvelous that so many of these conditions can be treated and patients made comfortable, each medication comes with its own risks and if not used or stored properly, drugs can cause serious damage to the user.
In nursing homes, where every patient needs very specific types of care and nurses are often working long hours for companies who are chronically understaffed, medical malpractice situations involving medication errors happen all too often. In one study, an examination of the records in just 25 nursing homes was performed. The results were shocking. Over the course of one year, 631 medication errors were made.
A third of those errors involved seven common drugs:
These medications are used to treat serious medical conditions like heart disease, pain, blood clots, and diabetes. But when the following mistakes are made, the disease isn’t properly treated.
A Failure To Properly Mix The Compound
When medication sits on a shelf, the suspension may separate and if it is not shaken or rolled as the instructions indicate it must be, the patient may receive too much or not enough of the drug.
Crushing Or Splitting Medications
Medications that are in capsules or that are not scored for perfect splitting should never be crushed or split.
Inadequate fluids intake, inadequate food intake, or giving the incorrect dose can all result in issues with the uptake of the medication. Inhalers are another common way of administering a drug which requires specific patient positioning and metered dosing.
If you or a loved one suspect that a nursing home is failing to properly medicate a patient, there are several steps you can take.
It is never too early to get legal help – in many cases, most people are unable to visit their loved ones every day when they are in a nursing home and by the time they realize there is a problem, the issue has been going on for some time. If you delay in getting assistance, it could result in serious health complications.