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Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

Elderly people often take one or more prescription medications daily. When our loved ones begin to struggle with medication management, this could indicate that it is time to enter a care facility.

In a nursing home, trained staff should ensure that patients get the correct doses of medicines at the proper times. Unfortunately, medication errors in nursing homes are a common occurrence. Although many of these mistakes have only minor and temporary effects, some errors can cause a severe reaction or even death.

If you or a family member suffered a severe reaction to a medication error in an assisted living facility, you might be entitled to seek monetary damages. Speak to a skilled attorney at Tittle & Perlmuter as soon as possible to explore your options.

Nursing Homes Must Meet Medication Administration Standards

Errors in administering medication in hospitals and nursing homes are frequent —the US Food and Drug Administration receives almost 100,000 reports of these incidents annually. The federal Medicare program regulates nursing facilities and imposes procedural requirements to limit medication errors.

The program issues specific guidelines for the use of anticoagulants, opioids, and diabetes medications. Facilities must ensure the patients do not receive any unnecessary medications, and a pharmacist must review each patient’s medication regimen at least monthly. Medicare requires facilities to keep their error rate under five percent. However, even facilities that meet these standards may still improperly administer medication to patients.

How Medication Errors Occur in Assisted Living Facilities

Minor medication errors occur when a facility does not administer a medication exactly as the physician prescribed or a manufacturer recommends. For example, perhaps a staff member cuts a pill so the patient will have an easier time swallowing it, but the manufacturer recommends against that practice because it might cause stomach distress. The mistake’s impact is likely to be minor, but this still counts as a medication error.

Other medication errors are more severe and could indicate nursing home neglect or malpractice, such as:

Many nursing homes suffer chronic staff shortages, and medication management is a precise, time-consuming task. Some facilities might improperly delegate these tasks to a non-licensed staff member with inadequate training. In other cases, even if the person handling the job is appropriately trained and licensed, overworking and time pressure could lead to mistakes.

Responding to Medication Errors

Any medication error could merit a response from the patient or his or her loved ones. In many cases, expressing concern to the Administrator and making a report to the Department of Health could be enough for the facility to upgrade its staff training and implement better procedures.

However, if a patient suffered a significant health problem from a nursing home medication error, a local attorney could help demand compensation. Medication errors are preventable and should not happen if the facility follows proper procedures. The fact that an error occurred is evidence of negligence.

A lawyer at our firm can help a family prepare a claim against the facility. The nursing home could be liable to pay the patient’s expenses related to treating the medical impact of the error and any complications it caused. The facility also could be liable to compensate for the patient’s suffering, mental anguish, and reduced quality of life due to the error.

Address Nursing Home Medication Errors with an Attorney

If your loved one suffered severe consequences due to a nursing home medication error, you could take legal action to hold the negligent facility accountable. This can help secure the financial compensation your loved one deserves as well as motivate the facility to provide better care for its patients.

Our legal team at Tittle & Perlmuter can help your family choose the most effective option to hold the facility accountable. Call us for a free consultation to discuss medication errors in nursing homes with a compassionate legal professional today.