More often than not, elderly individuals are checked into nursing homes because their physical or mental state require assistance that cannot be provided in their home setting. This is also why they tend to be more susceptible to medication abuse or errors. Communication errors and understaffing are common issues in Nursing Home environments. Employees can often be underpaid, inexperienced and/or undertrained, which increases the likelihood of medication dispensing issues.
A study done by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that medication errors affect 16-27% of nursing home residents. The Food and Drug Administration reports that medication errors injure more than 1.3 million people per year. Proper monitoring of the prescribed dosages is a critical part of an elderly resident’s care, as any medication errors could lead to injury or death.
Medication errors happen when staff gives the wrong medication or dosage to a patient. Improper administration of the medication or withholding medication altogether are common issues as well. Doctors often communicate instructions over the phone, which can result in miscommunication. Nursing home staff that fail to review a patient’s plan of care may give the wrong medication or dosage. In many of these cases, nursing home staff will give the resident a medication not prescribed to them, or a higher dosage of a medication they are currently on, in order to make them quiet, manageable, and subdued. When done purposefully, it is considered abuse.
It should be noted in the patient’s chart every time they receive the medication. If this is not done, a patient may receive too much medication within a certain time period, or at the same time as a contraindicatory medication. Not providing food or water with certain medications can lead to adverse reactions as well.
Warning Signs of Medication Errors or Abuse:
- Frequent Vomiting (without illness being the cause)
- Excessive sleepiness
- Decreased mobility
- Increase in falls
- Unexplained changes in behavior or alertness
- Sudden organ failure
- Unexplained death
Medication errors are avoidable, and nursing home establishments are obligated to have preventions in place to make sure their residents are cared for properly.
The attorneys at RGLZ have successfully navigated through the most complex lawsuits brought against nursing home and assisted living facilities. If you suspect a loved one may have been affected by medication errors or abuse by their nursing home staff, file a complaint about nursing home care in New York State by clicking here, and then contact us for a FREE case evaluation.
Check our website regularly as we continue to review the individual warning signs of elder abuse over the next few weeks.