Medication Errors

Nursing Home Medication Error Attorney

Many older adults start to develop chronic conditions that require them to be on a variety of medications. While this is safe when the medications are administered correctly, medication errors can occur, which can put the patient’s life at risk. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for medication errors to happen in nursing homes when staff aren’t paying attention or are not properly trained. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of medication errors, you have the right to take legal action to protect them. At Crossen Law Firm, a medication error attorney will advocate for the rights of those suffering in nursing homes, as well as their loved ones.

We understand how frustrating these situations can be and are here to help you protect your loved one and ensure the right parties are held accountable. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of a nursing home medication error, contact a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer at (317) 401-8626.

What is Considered a Medication Error in Nursing Homes

Medication errors are preventable events that often occur as a result of negligence in nursing homes. Personnel in these facilities are supposed to be properly trained to administer medication, which includes being familiar with side effects, potential interactions, contraindications, and anything else related to how the medication should be given, such as time of day or with or without food.

Unfortunately, medication errors in nursing homes happen more often than you might think. One study conducted on nursing homes in one state alone found that 92% of the facilities that participated reported medication errors. Additional studies in more recent years have also concluded that medication errors are increasing, pointing to the need for better medication management procedures.

Legally, for an event to officially be considered a medication error it must:

  • Have been preventable
  • Have caused harm to the patient
  • Have been in the control of the caregiver, nursing home staff, or patient

There are generally four types of medication errors that occur in nursing homes:

  • Knowledge-based errors: An error made because the nursing home staff member was unfamiliar with proper medication protocols, such as required dosage, interactions, or even allergies a patient might have to a certain medication.
  • Memory-based errors: Errors in memory concerning medication administration occur when a staff member forgets an important detail, such as forgetting to give the medication at a certain time or forgetting that a patient has an allergy.
  • Rule-based errors: These kinds of errors occur when a staff member goes against medication administration standards or protocols, such as injecting medication in the thigh when they are supposed to inject in the buttocks.
  • Action-based errors: This happens when staff accidentally do something they did not intend to, such as accidentally picking up the wrong medication or misinterpreting medication instructions.

Examples of Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

There are many ways that a medication error can happen in a nursing home facility. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Giving the medication to the wrong resident
  • Giving a resident too much of a medication (overdose)
  • Giving a resident too little of a medication (underdose)
  • Forgetting to give a patient their medication
  • Giving the medication at the wrong time of day
  • Giving a resident a medication that they are allergic to
  • Giving a medication that interacts with another the resident is already taking
  • Giving a resident a medication they have not been authorized to take
  • Not following medication instructions about food or drink

Common Causes of Nursing Home Medication Errors

The reason medication errors occur in nursing homes can vary greatly, however, one study recently found that the most common causes are human shortcomings and deficiencies in working conditions. These can include:

  • A lack of safe tools needed to facilitate secure medication management
  • Lack of training on medication protocols
  • Delegating medicine administration to non-licensed staff
  • Overall carelessness and abandonment of routines
  • Poor nursing home management
  • A lack of knowledge
  • Poor communication between staff
  • Disorganized nursing homes
  • Understaffing and staff being overworked

If you suspect any of the above issues are occurring in the nursing home where your loved one is a resident, you should report the issue immediately and contact a medication error attorney if your loved one has been directly affected. Though these issues happen often, this does not make them okay. Medication errors in nursing homes are often an issue of negligence, and legally, you can hold the negligent party responsible if their actions caused harm.

Medication Standards in Nursing Homes

All nursing home facilities are required to provide a certain standard of care to their residents, which includes following proper medication administration protocols to ensure the safety of the residents. If these standards are not followed, the nursing home or the individual party responsible for disobeying the rules can be held liable.

The nursing home should have a detailed medication safety procedure outlined for the staff to follow, which should include:

  • Medications should only be administered by licensed staff
  • Staff who administer medication must be properly trained to do so
  • No new medications should be prescribed without first speaking to the resident’s family
  • All patient medications should be logged, including when those medications have been administered and the dosage given
  • Staff who administer medications should familiarize themselves with a patient’s medical history
  • The patient’s safety should come first
  • If a medication error occurs, it should be reported immediately

Reporting Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

If you suspect negligence in a nursing home is occurring which has led to a medication error, there are a few things you should do to report the issue:

  1. Call 911 if the medication error has resulted in a medical emergency
  2. Inform the resident’s primary care provider of the medication error
  3. Report the issue to nursing home management
  4. Contact a nursing home ombudsman (someone who can advocate for you and your loved one and is trained to resolve care concerns)
  5. Contact a nursing home medication error lawyer if you intend to file a claim against the negligent party

Reporting medication errors is crucial in getting your loved one the care they need and preventing these issues from occurring in the future. When medication errors go unreported, the negligence causing the errors could continue to occur and result in harm to multiple residents.

Preventing Medication Errors

Nursing homes have a duty to take all necessary precautions to prevent errors from occurring that could cause harm to patients. According to a study conducted by the Patient Safety Network, results suggest that medication errors could be better prevented with:

  • Enhanced inter-provider communication
  • Improved approaches to medication reconciliation
  • Computerized entry systems

Additionally, the FDA also provides the following guidelines to reduce instances of medication errors:

  • Ensuring medications are properly labeled and providing clear instructions
  • Keeping medications in their original containers
  • Knowing the risks associated with medication errors
  • Understanding what the drug is and what it’s for
  • Double-checking the medication container and instructions every time it’s administered
  • Keeping a running list of all medications a resident is taking
  • Being aware of the risks of drug/drug and drug/food interactions

It should also be noted that better nursing home management, improved training protocols, and ensuring staff have what they need to properly administer medications can also help prevent errors. Often, errors occur because of the working conditions in nursing, so if those conditions are improved and the staff has what they need, then medication errors are less likely to occur.

What Damages Can You Recover from a Medication Error Lawsuit?

Medication errors are a type of negligence that is often classified as medical malpractice, and as such, you can file a lawsuit when these instances occur. To successfully win your case, you will need to provide evidence that proves your loved one was harmed as a result of the medication error, which typically requires the help of an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.

When you file your claim, you could recover financial compensation for the damages suffered, which can include:

  • Medical expenses that resulted from the medication error
  • Funeral expenses, if the error resulted in the death of your loved one
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Increased risk of future harm

You can also recover punitive damages if the medication error was the result of blatant negligence or the intention to cause harm.

How an Indiana Medication Error Attorney Can Help

Filing a medication error claim is not easy. Again, you will have to provide sufficient evidence that proves what happened and that your loved one suffered as a result. The nursing home could have its own legal team defending them and trying to disprove your claim. Thus, it is often necessary to work with a lawyer of your own to help you build a strong case.

A lawyer who is experienced in medication error cases will know just what to do to ensure your rights and the rights of your loved one are protected. They can investigate what happened, help you gather evidence, handle communications with the other parties involved, and ensure you win the full and fair settlement you deserve.

Explore Your Legal Options With an Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Discussing your case with an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer can help you during this trying time. At Crossen Law Firm, our team will fight tirelessly on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one to help you get what you deserve. You will not owe us anything unless we win your case.

Make the right call. Call Crossen Law Firm at (317) 401-8626 or contact our firm online.


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