Medication Errors

Medication errors result in some of the most easily preventable—but all too common—injuries to seniors living in nursing homes. Placing an aging loved one in a residential care facility is a difficult decision for a family that can no longer provide him or her 24-hour care. Most families who entrust their relative’s welfare to a long-term care facility hope the medical staff that will be responsible for their well-being will care for them professionally. They are often appalled when they find their loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in the very place that was supposed to watch out for their safety.

Neglect and abuse of elders who reside in nursing homes is an often overlooked problem in our society. Overt acts of abuse against patients are far less common than simple neglect as a result of understaffing. The aging of the population and exploding demand for long-term care have resulted in a shrinking number of qualified nurses and medical staff available for hire. Consequently, many nursing homes resort to hiring unskilled and untrained caregivers, which places the welfare of residents at risk.

When nursing facilities fall short of providing the level of professional care required of them, many health and safety hazards can result, including medication errors. Seniors are often placed on more prescription drugs as they age, raising the risk they will suffer an adverse interaction or be injured by a medication error as a result of staff negligence or inattention. It is estimated that prescription drug errors harm about 1-and-a-half million people in the United States each year, with 800,000 of those incidents happening to elderly or infirm residents in nursing homes.

The chain of individuals involved in the process by which a medication is prescribed, filled, and dispensed to a nursing home patient include the prescribing doctor, the pharmacist, and the nurse or other caregiver. If there is a mistake in any part of the chain, the consequences can be disastrous. Unless the resident is unable to participate in their own care due to dementia or other neurological disabilities, they should be able to understand why certain medications have been prescribed to them and how they are to be administered.

Understaffed Facilities Can Be a Recipe for Disaster

Some medications can cause serious injury if administered improperly. Following are some of the most common causes of nursing home medication errors:

  • The prescribing physician, possibly overworked and rushed, may prescribe drugs without confirming their safety for the specific patient.
  • The pharmacist may fill the prescription incorrectly
  • Overworked nursing staff may administer medications at the wrong times or frequency, in the wrong form, or incorrect dosage; or even, in rare cases, give a patient medication intended for a different patient.

While most people may experience only minor injury following such mistakes, some can suffer catastrophic harm simply because the professionals involved in the medication chain failed to follow proper protocol. Some medications can cause serious and even life-threatening injury if not administered properly. The nursing care facility should have a multi-layered system of checks and balances in place to prevent these errors.

Contact a Bergen County Nursing Home Lawyer Experienced in Medication Errors

At Aretsky Law Group P.C., our New Jersey nursing home injury lawyers examine the medication chain when investigating a nursing home case involving drug errors to determine which parties along the way neglected their legal duty. We look at the chain of responsibility to determine where things went wrong and which parties failed to prevent your loved one from receiving the wrong medication or dose. Our nursing home negligence attorneys will conduct a thorough inquiry to determine which party is liable for your loved one’s injuries and advise you on your legal options.

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