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Schwartz Injury Law

312-535-4625

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Chicago nursing home medication error LawyerThe opioid epidemic is one of the most significant challenges the U.S. is currently facing, and Americans of all ages and backgrounds are affected. Nursing home residents comprise one of the populations at risk of opioid addiction and overdose, especially in cases involving errors in the administration of medication. If you or your family member is suffering from the negative effects of opioids, it is important to understand whether the neglect of nursing home staff may be the root cause.

The Risks of Opioids for Nursing Home Residents

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prescription opioids are responsible for a large portion of the opioid epidemic. Recent statistics show that 10 million people abuse prescription opioids on an annual basis and that prescription opioids are a factor in around 40 percent of opioid overdose deaths.

Nursing home residents can be especially at risk, as they are often prescribed opioids for pain management and other chronic conditions. A 2017 study published by the American Geriatrics Society found that around one in seven nursing home residents were prescribed a long-term course of opioids, while almost one in three residents were prescribed an opioid at some point. While prescription opioids can be a legitimate course of treatment in many cases, they can cause serious problems if something goes wrong.

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Chicago nursing home neglect lawyerNursing homes have a crucial responsibility to provide competent medical care. This includes ensuring that residents get the medications they need in the correct quantity at the right time. Failure to do so can lead to worsened medical conditions and even an avoidable resident death. If you or a loved one were the victim of a medication mistake in a nursing home, you might be curious about your legal options. You may be interested in holding the nursing home accountable for the error and pursuing monetary damages.

Elements of a Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit

Most medication errors fall under the category of neglect. Nursing homes are held to high standards when it comes to medical care. Most residents are in poor health when they arrive at the facility. They may be on medications intended to alleviate pain, prevent blood clots, regulate blood pressure, treat infections, and more. Without these mediations, they may suffer severe or life-threatening consequences. Consider the story of one nursing home staff member who mistakenly gave a resident the drug vecuronium - a drug commonly used during lethal injections - instead of a common anti-anxiety medication with a similar name. The staff was charged with reckless homicide after the resident died from the medication error.  

Nursing home neglect occurs when a nursing home’s failure to provide reasonably skilled medical care results in a patient's injury or death and damages result from the injury or death. Damages are losses such as additional hospital bills or funeral and burial expenses.  

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Illinois nursing home medication mistakes attorneyModern medicine has allowed people to live decades longer than we used to. Diseases that would once quickly kill an individual may now be cured by simply taking a couple of pills. However, in order for medications to be effective, they must be properly dosed and administered. Medication mistakes in a nursing home can lead to needless resident suffering and may even contribute to a resident’s untimely death. If your loved one was the victim of a medication error in a nursing home, you may wonder if you have grounds for a lawsuit. A nursing home injury claim may help you hold the negligent nursing home accountable for your loved one’s harm, however, a successful claim is only possible in certain situations.

Types of Medication Errors in Illinois Nursing Homes

Most nursing home residents rely on at least one or more medications to keep symptoms of medical ailments under control. Medications may be used to ease a resident’s pain, fight infection, avoid blood clots, treat abnormal heart rhythms, and much more. When a resident does not receive the appropriate medication, he or she may suffer from new and worsening health complications. Sadly, some medication mistakes are fatal. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administration of the wrong type of medication
  • Administration of “sound alike” medication
  • Improper administration technique
  • Skipped dose of medication
  • Giving too much or too little medication

When is a Successful Lawsuit Possible?

If your loved one was the victim of a medication error while living in a nursing home, you may be curious about your legal options. A nursing home injury claim may allow you to hold the nursing home accountable for the mistake and recover financial compensation for damages. To bring a successful nursing home injury lawsuit, you and your attorney will need to demonstrate that:

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IL nursing home abuse lawyerThere are an estimated 1.5 million people living in nursing homes across the United States. Most nursing home residents have significant health concerns, including physical disabilities and mental disabilities, that require daily medication. Residents who do not receive their medications may suffer terrible pain and worsening health conditions. In some cases, a medication error can even cost a vulnerable resident his or her life. If your loved one has suffered in a nursing home due to a medication mistake, speak to a nursing home neglect attorney.

Common Medication Mistakes in Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing home staff have an ethical duty as well as a legal obligation to provide reasonably competent care to residents. Unfortunately, understaffing, lack of organization, inadequate staff training, and other problems can lead to major medical mistakes. Some of the most common medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Administering the wrong medication or an incorrect dose of the medication
  • Administering an expired medication
  • Skipping medication doses or administering a dose twice
  • Using a flawed medication administration technique
  • Giving the medication to the resident at the wrong time of day
  • Not following medication directions such as directions requiring the medication to be taken with food
  • Failing to properly mix, shake, roll, or otherwise prepare the medication
  • Inaccurately documenting when the medication was given and what dose was administered
  • Failing to monitor the resident for side effects or other health concerns after giving the medication
  • Failing to verify that a resident actually consumed the medication

Consequences of Medication Errors

When a resident does not receive the medication he or she needs, or even worse, receives a medication that he or she is not supposed to receive, the results can be dramatic. The resident may suffer in severe pain and experience adverse reactions to the medication or lack of medication. Residents with physical and mental incapacities may not be able to express that they are experiencing these symptoms. When a major medication error results in a resident’s injury or death, the resident or his or her loved ones may choose to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home. A successful medical malpractice claim can help victims recover compensation while also holding the negligent nursing home facility accountable for the harm caused.

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Illinois nursing home medication mistakes attorneysA person would not be staying in a nursing home if he or she did not have physical or mental health issues that necessitate around-the-clock care. The majority of nursing home residents are on one or more medications in order to manage the symptoms caused by their health issues. When nursing home staff fail to give residents their medications on time or in the correct dosages, serious complications can result. In some cases, medication errors can even result in a resident’s death. If your loved one has suffered because a negligent nursing home facility failed to properly administer medication, you may have a valid personal injury claim.

Medication Mistakes Can Seriously Harm vulnerable Nursing Home Residents

While some minor medication errors may not cause the resident harm, other medication mistakes can cause severe damage. There are federal regulations that prohibit nursing home staff from making serious medication errors. Some of the most concerning nursing home medication-related mistakes include:

  • Giving the resident the wrong medication or mixing up two residents’ medications
  • Improperly administering the medication
  • Giving the resident medicine that is expired or spoiled
  • Administering too much or too little of a medication
  • Prescribing the wrong medication for the resident’s health concern

Why Do Medication Mistakes Occur?

A great deal of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are understaffed. One recent study showed that a deplorable 75 percent of nursing homes do not have enough registered nurses. Working at a nursing home can be grueling work and many nursing home staff are compensated very little for their time and effort. Unfortunately, this means that many facilities have trouble maintaining enough staff to care for residents’ needs. However, this is not an excuse for a nursing home to provide substandard care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act obliges long-term care facilities to provide adequate medical treatment to residents. When a nursing home fails to uphold its duty to properly care for a resident, the facility may be legally responsible for the damages that result.

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