A Nursing Home Has a Legal Duty to Prevent Medication Errors
We all make mistakes; however, when it comes to the care and support you receive in a nursing home, a mistake can end up costing a life. One of the common errors that occur in nursing home environments is medication errors. Sure, there are many excuses why your medication may have been mixed up, missed, or administered incorrectly – the staff member was exhausted; the label wasn’t clear; the staff member is new to the team; the order was read wrong; there was a problem with communication – however, none of these explanations can excuse the legal implications of the situation.
Nursing Home Medication Errors Are Preventable
Medication errors in nursing homes are a serious situation that can end up causing severe illnesses and, in some cases, even death. Furthermore, medication errors are a serious sign of nursing home neglect or abuse and this behavior should never, under any circumstance, be tolerated. It is important to report any medication errors then to hold them accountable get advice from a Minnesota nursing home elder abuse and neglect lawyer right away.
Types of Medication Errors
Medication error often occur due to the following instances:
- If a nursing home staff fails to give the needed medications;
- If a nursing home staff gives the wrong medication;
- If a nursing home staff gives the wrong dosage of a medication;
- If the nursing home staff fails to give the medication at the correct time;
- If the nursing home staff does not follow the orders instructed by the resident’s physician.
Whatever the reason, the result is still harmful to the patient and can be considered a form of abuse. Just because a nursing home is understaffed and a staff member is tired does not excuse the member from providing inadequate care.
Nursing Homes MUST Ensure that Residents are Free of any Significant Medication Error
Pursuant to federal regualtion 42 CFR § 483.25 (m), Medication Errors. The facility must ensure that—
(1) It is free of medication error rates of five percent or greater; and
(2) Residents are free of any significant medication errors.
State law in Minn Rules 4658.1320 Medication Errors. A nursing home must ensure that:
A. Its medication error rate is less than five percent as described in the Interpretive Guidelines for Code of Federal Regulations, title 42, section 483.25(m), found in Appendix P of the State Operations Manual, Guidance to Surveyors for Long-Term Care Facilities, which is incorporated by reference in part 4658.1315. For purposes of this part, a medication error means:
(1) a discrepancy between what was prescribed and what medications are actually administered to residents in the nursing home; or
(2) the administration of expired medications.
B. It is free of any significant medication error. A significant medication error is:
(1) an error which causes the resident discomfort or jeopardizes the resident’s health or safety; or
(2) medication from a category that usually requires the medication in the resident’s blood to be titrated to a specific blood level and a single medication error could alter that level and precipitate a reoccurrence of symptoms or toxicity.
C. All medications are administered as prescribed. An incident report or medication error report must be filed for any medication error that occurs. Any significant medication errors or resident reactions must be reported to the physician or the physician’s designee and the resident or the resident’s legal guardian or designated representative and an explanation must be made in the resident’s clinical record.
Questions regarding medication errors:
- How are errors reported in the facility?
- Is the same person making repeat medication errors?
- Who tracks and the errors?
- What was indicated on the Medication Administration Records (MAR)?
In most instances, a medication error or unnecessary drugs will go unnoticed. However, if you have experienced confusion, over-sedation, hallucinations, bleeding and other symptoms of a medication error, or if you notice your loved one acting out of place, then it could be due to a medication error. Furthermore, if you notice that the medication prescription has been altered without the knowledge of the resident or their legal representative or if you notice that you are missing dosages, it is important to speak to someone about this problem. Discuss your concerns with an experienced elder abuse and neglect attorney.
Contact Elder Abuse and Medication Error Attorney Kenneth L. LaBore
Kenneth L. LaBore can offer you years of experience in handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases. No medication error should go unnoticed and if you have been affected by this type of neglect, it is important that you get the legal advice to hold the facility accountable for their preventable neglect. Contact Kenneth L. LaBore locally at 612-743-9048 or call him toll free at 1-888-452-6589 or by email: at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.