Medication Errors Threaten Residents Says Boca Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

By Osborne & Francis
July 18, 2024

Medication errors in nursing homes are common and mostly preventable, often leading to serious injuries and deaths says Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

Residents of nursing homes may need to take several medications to help treat the medical challenges they face. If the wrong drug is taken, or the right medication is given but at the wrong dosage at the wrong time, there can be severe health consequences says Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

These medication errors are common in the healthcare system in general and in nursing homes in particular. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines a medication error as,

  • Any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient or consumer.
  • Such events may be related to professional practice and systems, including: prescription, order communication, product labeling, packaging, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring and use.

The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services looked into the issue of medication errors in skilled nursing facilities. After their investigation they issued a report in 2014 which found,

  • About 22% of Medicare patients experienced adverse events during their stays.
  • 79% of those suffering adverse events needed to stay in facilities longer or needed hospital treatment, 14% needed medical intervention to save the person’s life and 6% of the time the medication error contributed to or caused the resident’s death.
  • In one month’s time (August 2011) an estimated 1,538 Medicare patients in skilled nursing facilities nationwide died with medication errors at least partially to blame.
  • Medication errors caused “cascade events” in 3,986 residents where errors triggered multiple medical issues in residents often suffering from more than one medical condition.
  • Another 11% suffered temporary harm during their stays. In many cases the harm was only temporary because of quick responses by staff.
  • Physicians reviewing the issue found that 59% of adverse and temporary harm events were clearly or likely preventable.
  • The top problems were substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring and failure or delay of necessary care.
  • More than half of the residents who suffered harm needed hospital treatment (a total of 20,393 people), costing Medicare an estimated $208 million in just one month, August 2011.
  • For fiscal year 2011 the report estimated that medication errors cost Medicare $2.8 billion for hospital treatment due to harm caused by medication errors in skilled nursing facilities nationwide.

There are many potential reasons why medication errors occur, they aren’t discovered until it’s too late and residents are not treated appropriately.

  • Overworked staff caring for too many residents may be in a rush to get work done before a shift is over.
  • Poor communication or errors in medical records can result in the wrong drug or wrong dosage being used.
  • Residents may not know what medications they need to take and are unable to ensure they’re being treated properly.

If a family member living in an assisted living facility or nursing home in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach Counties suffered harm because of a medication error, contact Boca Raton nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. We can talk about the situation, how the law could apply in your case and the best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

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