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How Medication Errors Put Nursing Home Residents in Danger

 Posted on May 31, 2018 in Medication Errors

Chicago nursing home medication error lawyerData shows that about 1.5 million individuals are living in nursing homes across the United States. As the “Baby Boomer” generation ages, more and more people will need the intensive care that nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer. It has never been more important for those with loved ones in nursing homes to hold the facility and staff within it responsible for their actions. Many nursing homes are understaffed or have staff members who have not been adequately trained. This can result in the residents receiving poor care and consequently worsened medical conditions. One way inadequate staff put residents at risk is through medication errors.

Fragile Health Means Medication Mistakes Can Be Deadly

Those who live in a nursing home are usually there because they have numerous medical conditions, are functionally impaired, have cognitive deficits such as dementia, and are currently on medication which requires supervision. For some residents, their health issues are purely physical, but approximately 70% of residents experience cognitive impairment which makes them unable to understand and remember everything which happens to them. The combination of serious medical issues and cognitive impairment can leave nursing home residents extremely vulnerable to mismanaged medication. In fact, needing help taking their required medications is one of the main reasons some individuals end up in nursing homes. Unfortunately, nursing home staff sometimes make errors with resident’s medication which can put them at risk of injury, illness, or even death.

Examples of Medication Errors That Put Residents at Risk

There are countless ways that nursing home staff can make mistakes when administering medication to residents. MEdciation errors which most frequently occur include:

  • Under-medication: Sometimes nursing home staff simply skip a resident’s dose of required medication, either accidentally or intentionally. Many residents experience substantial chronic pain and require consistent medication to have any relief from it. Nursing home staff who skip doses of medication or otherwise do not give residents the medication they require are not only putting the resident’s health at risk but may also be causing them tremendous pain;
  • Over-medication: Unfortunately, some nursing homes use medication as a means of chemically restraining residents. One study conducted by the Human Rights Watch found that approximately 179,000 nursing home residents are being given dangerous antipsychotic drugs, even though they do not have a medical condition that those drugs are designed to treat;
  • Administering medications improperly: Not all medicine is taken the same way. Untrained or inexperienced nursing home staff may crush or split medications that should not be split, not offer adequate food or water with medications, misuse enteral nutritional formulas (ENFs) or metered dose inhalers (MDIs), and more; and
  • Wrong medication: Possibly one of the most dangerous medication mistakes nursing home staff can make is to give a resident medication intended for another resident.

Contact Us for Help

If your loved one has suffered due to mistreatment in a nursing home, an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney can help. Contact Schwartz Injury Law to receive the legal assistance you need. To schedule your free initial consultation, call 312-535-4625 today.





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