Medication mistakes are mostly due to human error, a study says.
Medication is supposed to help, not hurt. But when errors are made in distribution or dosage, the results can be harmful and severe. Some medication errors are fatal. In the U.S., an estimated 800,000 preventable medication errors happen in long-term care facilities and nursing homes every year.
Mistakes involving prescribed and over-the-counter medications are frequently due to human error and may be signs of nursing home neglect. Families with loved ones in Pennsylvania nursing homes should be alert to sudden health changes, unexplained injuries, or lapses in communication about treatment plans. Trusting instincts and taking prompt action are vital if neglect is suspected.
Here's what everyone needs to know about nursing home medication errors, how to spot them, and what to do if you suspect neglect.
Types of medication errors
Nursing homes are legally obligated to follow strict medication management standards, including accurate record-keeping, staff training, and supervision to prevent medication errors. However, nursing home medication errors still happen. They encompass a range of mistakes, from administering the wrong dosage to providing the wrong medication altogether. One survey found that most medication errors are made during administration, and nearly half were due to human error. Common types of nursing home medication errors include:
- Omission (missing doses).
- The patient receives medication destined for another resident - this type of medication error typically has the most severe consequences for the victim.
- Wrong product/medication. Misunderstandings led to residents being given clonazepam instead of morphine and lidocaine instead of sterile water. Sometimes, confusion was caused by similarly named drugs, and residents received, for example, sulfadiazine instead of sulfasalazine or Lovenox instead of lovastatin.
- Wrong medication strength.
Any medication can be involved in an error. One study found that some of the medications most likely to be involved in nursing home medication error incidents were among the most widely prescribed, like Lorazepam, Oxycodone, Warfarin, Furosemide, Hydrocodone, insulin, and Fentanyl.
Signs of medication errors
Regular communication with the nursing home staff and healthcare providers and thorough monitoring of the resident's health are crucial in promptly identifying promptly addressing potential medication errors. However, signs may also be observed during a regular visit or phone call with nursing home residents. These may include:
- Confusion or disorientation.
- Unexplained fatigue or weakness.
- Unexpected weight loss or gain.
- Visibile medication mishaps.
- Lack of improvement in resident's health.
- Decline in personal hygiene.
- Increased agitation or irritability.
- Frequent infections or illnesses.
- New difficulties communicating.
- Unexplained falls or injuries.
If a medication error is suspected, loved ones should immediately contact a Pittsburgh nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer with experience investigating and demanding justice for the victims of medication errors.
How a nursing home neglect lawyer can help
When faced with the possibility that your loved one may have been the victim of nursing home neglect, having a dedicated and compassionate Pittsburgh medication error attorney by your side can make all the difference. We can help.
Hal Waldman & Associates has served clients in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania since 1977. Firm founder attorney Hal K. Waldman is one of Pittsburgh's most experienced and renowned nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers. If you suspect a loved one is the victim of a medication error due to nursing home neglect, contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.
We'll guide you through understanding your options and assist you in choosing the right path for your case. We operate on a contingency fee basis. That means our services come with no upfront or out-of-pocket costs. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation and take the first step toward justice for your loved one.