Medication errors are a common problem in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These errors are investigated by the state when they’re reported, and state inspectors must identify a medication error rate for each facility with reports of medication errors.
The facility must have a certain rate of low medication errors, and if they don’t, they need to then create a plan and prove they can better their error rate, which is long and tedious. That percent is below 5%. If it goes higher, nursing homes must go through tedious planning to show the state they can lower the med. error rate.
What is a Medication Error?
Medication errors are inevitable, which is why your nursing home can have 5% of medication errors. But anymore than that can show neglect because medications are incredibly important to the wellbeing and health of senior patients. Otherwise, they’d not be on said medications.
When a dose of a medication, or the medication type, differs from what a physician prescribed, then it is considered a medical error. Sometimes medication must be taken at very specific times, or falls below physician standards in some other way.
How Are Meds Given in a Nursing Home?
Most nursing home facilities give medication at a “med pass”. This is a time of day when the medication for the entire nursing home is dispensed at one time, to the residents, according to a pre-chosen order that the staff have created. A nurse typically goes to each resident with a cart where she presents them with their meds, watches them take their meds, and ensures it’s up to par with physician standards.
Med passes can only be carried out by licensed nurses. Sometimes, dependent upon the state, staff members can provide meds as long as a licensed nurse oversees them. Med passes can take up to 5 hours to complete, because the medication has to be organized beforehand, and documentation must be provided to show that the right meds were distributed.
Examples of Med Errors
There are many ways that medication errors can happen in a nursing home and some of those are:
- Slicing a pill that was not meant to be sliced.
- Cutting a pill that should not be split.
- Crushing a pill that should not be crushed.
- Not giving liquids to take medications with.
- Provide no antacids with medication.
- Provide no food with medication.
- Failing to mix, shake or roll the medication.
- Giving medications with enteral nutritional formulas.
- Eye drops were given wrong.
- The resident was not supposed to swallow the medication in question.
Some pills, such as capsules, are not meant to be taken, crushed or sliced or cut. It can cause the medication not to work as effectively. Sometimes medications have an amount of liquid that the resident must take, or food that the resident must have, and not providing that can cause the resident’s medication not to work as it should.
Medication can even be given while expired, which can cause issues in and of itself. If your loved one is in a New Jersey nursing home and you find out that they’re receiving medications in a manner that they should not be, that may be abuse. You may want to seek a nursing home abuse lawyer such as the ones available at Davis & Brusca, LLC. An experienced lawyer that deals with nursing home medication errors may be able to help you seek compensation for your loved one.