Nursing Home Medication Errors

Patients in nursing homes – whether they are elderly, infirm or disabled – are in need of care and assistance from others. They are vulnerable in that they often are unable to take care of their own health, nutrition and personal care needs. They are wholly dependent upon their caregivers, trusting the professionals to take the best possible care of them. When that trust is violated, and a caregiver’s negligence results in a medication error, the patient’s very life could be at stake.

In a particularly tragic twist, many medication errors affecting nursing home and residential care facility patients aren’t noticed in a timely manner because the patients themselves are non-verbal since they are dependent upon ventilators for breathing assistance or have trouble communicating clearly because of conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

What Does the Phrase “Medication Error” Entail?

The broader heading of ” medication errors” actually encompasses a wide range of activities and behaviors that can put patients at risk. These include:

  • Giving too much of a medication (overdosing the patient)
  • Not giving enough of a vital medication (underdosing a patient in need of a life-sustaining heart, blood pressure or cholesterol drug can be fatal)
  • Administering the wrong medicine
  • Administering a medicine that toxically interacts with another medication – a fatal reaction could occur if a blood thinner like Warfarin or Coumadin is combined with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Giving a drug that toxically reacts to a food or beverage the patient has received – for example, the popular heart medicine Cordarone and the widely used anti-seizure drug Tegretol both are incompatible with grapefruit and some other citrus fruits

If you suspect that a loved one in a nursing home has suffered a medication error, seek medical help immediately to try to counteract the negative effects of the drug-related mistake. Afterwards, consult an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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