Medication Mistakes in South Carolina Nursing Homes

November 24, 2015

 

Improperly administering the proper dosage of medication can have catastrophic and even deadly results for your parent or loved one in a nursing home.  By the time your elderly relative is in a nursing home, they are usually infirm or disabled to an extent that they are vulnerable, and rely on the guidance and decisions of the nursing home staff.

Medication is an integral part of the care that is provided to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and one study found that each elderly resident takes an average of 6.7 prescription drugs while in a nursing home.  The more medication a patient takes, the higher the likelihood of error.  Patients who are no longer able to self-administer medication are at the mercy of the nursing home staff, and unfortunately, in many cases, that staff is overworked, underpaid, or poorly screened and trained.

How big is the problem of medication errors in nursing homes?

A 2007-08 study in North Carolina by the Medication Error Quality Initiative identified the most frequent medication errors as: forgetting a dose of medication; giving multiple doses (overdose) of one medication; giving too small of a dose, or under-dosing a patient; giving the wrong product to the wrong patient; or giving the right medication to the right patient at the wrong time or for the wrong amount of time.  This problem is prevalent enough that as long as a facility has a medication error rate of 5% or less, it will not be cited by federal investigators.

Why are medication mistakes made?

Sheer volume of medication doses to administer accounts for most medication errors made in nursing homes.  Being distracted, interrupted with other duties, overworked, or fatigued also contributes to medication errors in nursing homes.

Lack of communication is a major reason for medication errors as well.  For example, if a nursing home resident is hospitalized due to illness or injury, the doctor sometimes makes changes to the medication regimen.  When the patient returns to the nursing facility, sometimes the revised order is not properly communicated, or the staff of the nursing home erroneously thinks the change was not meant to be permanent.  Other communication issues arise between nursing shifts, as very busy and tired nurses do not always sufficiently make notes or interact with their relief nurses about medication changes, patient complaints, or observations.   

David Aylor Law Offices Has Experience With Medication Error Cases

Many things can be done in this era of technology to reduce human error, including computerized medication dispensing and monitoring. However, many nursing homes simply do not have the resources to purchase this type of equipment, and must rely on the staff.  Nursing homes that lack the resources to provide residents with the latest technology often have staff that is also shadowed by the same lack of resources, meaning your loved one is being given medication by someone who is in many cases overworked, unqualified, or not well trained.

If you suspect that a parent or loved one is the victim of a medication mistake at a nursing home in the Charleston area, then you need the assistance of an experienced South Carolina nursing home medication error attorney. Call or email David Aylor Law Offices today, and speak with a dedicated, experienced nursing home attorney.

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