Nursing Home Medication Error

South Carolina Medication Error Attorneys

Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers Serving Charleston, Summerville, and Goose Creek

Medication is one of modern medicine’s most powerful tools. Yet, drugs only hold the power to heal when prescribed and used correctly. Unfortunately, licensed physicians can prescribe incorrect pills and creams, or a nursing home staff member can fail to provide the correct dosage and timing for their residents’ medications.

When nursing home staff members do not dispense prescriptions correctly, serious injuries can occur. Failing to give medication, to check that it’s the proper medication, or to provide the right dose can form a pattern of neglect over time.

Medication errors are common in nursing homes. One study found that 16 to 27 percent of all nursing home residents experienced at least one medication error while living in a nursing home. When a resident was transferred from one home to another, the risk increased by 31 percent. If you suspect medication errors in a nursing home have harmed a loved one, talk to an experienced nursing home neglect attorney today.

What Are Medication Errors?

A medication error happens when:

  • A doctor prescribes the wrong medication for a patient;
  • A doctor prescribes the correct medication, but a pharmacy gives a patient medicine that is different than the one prescribed;
  • A nurse or caregiver gives a patient the wrong medication or dose; or
  • A nurse or caregiver does not adhere to the schedule for giving a patient their medication.

Although a nursing home resident’s doctor may prescribe the proper medication, and a pharmacy may fill that prescription correctly, mistakes can happen along the way. Often, nursing home residents rely on staff members to ensure each resident receives the right amount of drugs at the right time.

Nursing home staff may cause a medication error when they:

  • Cut or crush pills even though the label says not to administer the drug in this way;
  • Combine medications with food, water, or other drugs in ways that cause dangerous interactions;
  • Allow patients to take their medication in a way it is not designed to be taken – for example, by letting a patient swallow a pill that is supposed to dissolve under the tongue; and
  • Give expired medication, or give the wrong type or strength.

Nursing home staff can also cause a medication error by not::

  • Giving a patient enough water, food, or antacids as appropriate, which prevents the patient’s body from absorbing the medication correctly;
  • Preparing the medication correctly. Some medicines must be broken, shaken, or mixed. When nursing home staff skip this step, the patient may receive too much or too little of the active ingredient;
  • Taking enough time to monitor their patients and ensure that the medications are swallowed or absorbed correctly; and
  • Writing down the correct documentation when giving medication.

Coordinating medications for several residents at once requires strict attention to detail. In a nursing home, staff members may be tempted to rush or skip critical steps in their daily process. Doing so is a form of neglect. Residents rely solely on staff members to pay close attention to their medication’s instruction labels. When staff members fail to do so, the residents suffer additional injuries and, in some cases, death.

Types of Injuries Caused by Medication Errors

Medications treat various conditions and change the natural flow of a person’s body. For example, some medicines target the causes of swelling to reduce it. Many cancer medications work by breaking up a cancer cell’s ability to reproduce.

Medication can provide significant benefits if the correct dosage is given to a patient. If the wrong amount of a drug is provided, the medicine will not work as intended and can cause serious harm to a person.

Residents can suffer if they receive too much, too little, or the wrong type of medication. Common problems caused by medication errors include:

  • A medical condition that gets worse;
  • A medical condition that heals slower than expected;
  • New symptoms or complications;
  • Organ damage or failure;
  • Overdose as toxic substances build up in the body; and
  • Uncontrolled pain.

Medication errors derived from neglect are unacceptable. If you or someone you know has experienced complications with a new medicine while living at a nursing home in South Carolina, contact the Steinberg Law Firm today. It’s best to have your or your loved one’s unique incident evaluated and discussed with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney. Our nursing home abuse and neglect legal team will work with you on obtaining documentation to build a strong case against the nursing home facility.

How To Address Medication Errors

Spotting medication errors can be challenging. Identifying these errors as a form of neglect can be even more difficult.

Family members and loved ones can take steps to spot medication errors and protect nursing home residents. To fight back against this form of neglect:

  • Time your visits so that you are present when your loved one receives their medication at least once daily;
  • Talk to your loved one’s doctor and read up on their medications, so you know how much medicine your loved one should receive and in what form.
  • When a loved one’s medication changes, ensure nursing home staff have the doctor’s and pharmacist’s instructions in writing; and
  • Watch your loved one for side effects or changing symptoms, like uncontrolled pain, new illnesses or complications, lack of energy, or signs that the medication is not doing what it was prescribed to do.

If you suspect medication errors or neglect, you can also take steps to protect your loved one.

Some medications appear more commonly in medication errors than others. A study of nursing home medication errors in North Carolina found that over 12 percent of all mistakes involved pain medications. Sedatives were engaged in just over 8 percent of all medication errors. Diabetes medications accounted for just under 6 percent of errors. If your loved one receives these medications, extra vigilance may be required.

What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect

If you believe your loved one is suffering from medication errors or other forms of neglect, talk to an experienced nursing home neglect attorney today. At Steinberg Law Firm, our attorneys will listen as you describe what you’ve seen and experienced. We’ll help you understand your legal options and support you as you choose the next step for your loved one. Contact us today at (843) 720-2800 or through our online contact form.

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