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Medication Errors in New York Nursing Homes

Over Medication is a form of Nursing Home Abuse

Four out of five adults will use over-the-counter drugs, prescription medication, or dietary or herbal settlements in the U.S. in any given week. Nearly one-third of adults take five or more different medications, and nearly half of the population uses at least one prescription drug every 30 days. With so many individuals frequently consuming medication, mistakes in prescription and consumption remain a prevalent healthcare issue.

Medication error—which can be defined as any mistake in the prescribing, administering, or dispensing of a drug—is now the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., having surpassed diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Medication errors are sometimes the result of ineffective prescribing, misleading packaging, sloppy handwriting, issues with manufacturing, and incorrect dispensing. Though these mistakes can happen in any healthcare setting—from hospitals and surgery centers to medical offices and pharmacies—they’re especially prevalent in nursing homes. They can have severe-to-fatal consequences, especially for older and more vulnerable residents.

Causes of Medication Errors in New York Nursing Homes

If you or a family member are in a nursing home, it’s crucial to understand the possibility of medication errors in the facility. They’re more common than most people realize, and appreciating why they happen can help avert future mistakes. Here are the common causes of medication error:

  • Knowledge-based errors: This type of mistake occurs if a staff member doesn’t have enough information about the medication they’re giving a resident. If the staff is well informed about the drug and the patient, knowledge-based medication errors can be avoided.
  • Rule-based errors: Rule-based medication errors occur when a staff member doesn’t follow proper rules or procedures for medication administration. For example, perhaps the nursing home improperly doesn’t require staff to double-check dose calculations for high-risk drugs.
  • Action-based errors: Action-based medication errors are defined as the performance of an action that wasn’t what was intended. Examples of action-based medication errors include selecting the wrong medication, administering an incorrect dose, or giving a patient the wrong medication.
  • Memory-based errors: Memory-based medication errors occur when a staff member forgets to perform a task or omits essential information about the patient. A staff member may forget to give a medication dose, overlook that the medication has been discontinued, or fail to remember that the patient is allergic to the medication.

Examples of medication errors include slicing or cutting a pill that shouldn’t be split, giving expired medication, providing inadequate liquids with medications, using an incorrect med-administration technique, skipping a dose of medication, and giving medication at the wrong time.

The Effects of Medication Errors on Patients

Medication errors can cause a wide range of issues or patients. Not all result in actual harm, but those that do are costly. Medication errors that cause harm are called “preventable adverse drug events,” and if a medication error occurred but didn’t hurt anyone, it’s called a “potential adverse drug event.” In some cases, these mistakes can create a new ailment in a patient, which may be temporary or permanent, such as itching, rashes, or skin disfigurement. Medication errors can also result in severe patient injury or death, although this is a rare occurrence.

A Common Example of a Medication Error

Medication errors can come up multiple ways. A medication error may occur after taking an over-the-counter product that contains acetaminophen when you’re already taking a prescription pain medicine that contains this exact ingredient. This mistake could cause you to take more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen, putting yourself at risk of liver damage. 

Although most medication errors don’t result in patient injury, those that do are more likely to occur at the prescribing and administering stages in the hospital setting and are more commonly intercepted at the former stage than at the latter.

What to Do after a Medication Error in a New York Nursing Home

Medication errors are generally caused by the following elements:

  • Human error: This can be legally classified as nursing home negligence.
  • Malpractice: Malpractice can occur on the part of the nursing home, the pharmacy that filled the prescription, or the doctor writing the prescription. 

If a nursing home patient is seriously injured due to a prescription drug mistake, victims and their families are entitled to seek legal recourse through a medication error claim. 

If your family member suffered injuries because of a medication error or any other form of abuse or neglect, it’s crucial that you get in contact with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Establishing a case of nursing home medication error can be as simple as comparing all the pertinent medical records, but doing so requires the skill and expertise of a seasoned lawyer.

It’s also important to note that all nursing home residents have the right to be informed about what medications they’re consuming, as well as any changes to their prescriptions. Family members have this right as well, but facilities are required to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, limiting access to a patient’s medical records. However, sometimes facilities will intentionally impede family members from obtaining medical records in the case of error. Additionally, patients have the right to refuse treatment and be advised about the risks associated with refusal and alternate courses of treatment.

Have You or a Family Member Suffered from Medication Errors in a New York Nursing Home? Contact Dalli & Marino

If you or a family member is facing injury from a medication error and you suspect someone else may be at fault, get in touch with the medical malpractice attorneys at Dalli and Marino. We’re a group of knowledgeable lawyers who understand New York-specific regulations and government healthcare. Our settlements and verdicts have recovered millions of dollars for our clients since 1996.

Our team of best-in-class trial attorneys approach each case on an individual basis and are committed to helping you recover the money you need to compensate for your injury. Call us at (888) 465-8790 or complete our contact form today.

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