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Medication Errors In Nursing Homes

Mistakes in Administering Medicine Can Harm Nursing Home Residents

In Kentucky and nationwide, medication errors are recognized as a common problem in nursing homes. In fact, state and federal regulations require nursing homes to maintain an error rate of less than five-percent, and to ensure residents are free of any significant medication errors. A significant medication error is one that causes a nursing home resident discomfort or jeopardizes his or her health or safety.

Types of Nursing Home Medication Errors

A medication error occurs when the preparation or administration of medication contradicts a doctor's orders, the manufacturer's instructions, or the accepted professional standards regarding that medicine. Examples of medication errors in nursing homes include:

  • Providing inadequate fluids with medications
  • Providing inadequate food or antacids with medications
  • Failing to properly shake, mix, or roll the medication
  • Crushing or slicing medications that should not be split
  • Using metered dose inhalers (MDIs) improperly
  • Medication dose omission or under-dose
  • Medication overdose or multiple doses
  • Administering expired medication
  • Administering incorrect medication, strength of medication, or form of medication
  • Incorrect time, duration, or rate of medication administration
  • Incorrect medication administration technique
  • Failing to monitor resident following medication administration
  • Lab work errors

Most medication in nursing homes is distributed using a "med pass" system—a nurse takes a cart from resident to resident administering medication. While it sounds straightforward, the med pass is complicated and has the potential to produce most medication errors. For example, new residents, residents with similar names, and new employees can lead to the wrong person receiving medication intended for another.

Intentional Medication Errors

Most medication errors in nursing homes stem from oversights and confusion; however, some "mistakes" are intentional. A nursing home staff member who purposefully ignores the details of the nursing home's medication dispensing procedures is committing malpractice. Examples of ignoring medication orders include choosing to change a dose, discontinuing medication, adding an unordered medication, or making other medication changes. If a medication order is ignored, the resident may not get the full benefit of the drug therapy ordered or be exposed to potentially harmful conditions.

Contact Us for Help with Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

If you or your loved one has been the victim of a medication error in a Lexington area nursing home, please contact O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC to schedule a free initial consultation. Whether the mistake was intentional or unintentional, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for any resulting injuries that were sustained.