Medication Errors at Jacksonville Nursing Homes
Medication errors are a common form of neglect at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. As Jacksonville nursing home lawyers, we see the aftermath that can result from these errors including: untreated infections; septic shock; altered mental status; diabetic incidents; unregulated pain; and death.
Nursing homes are responsible for making sure residents are taking medications as prescribed. Medication errors occur when residents receive: the wrong medication; the wrong dosage of the right medication; or when they do not receive a prescribed medication at all.
Medication errors at Jacksonville nursing homes occur regularly. In fact, our lawyers have handled nursing home medication error cases involving: antibiotics; intravenous medications; Duoneb (an inhaler); antidepressants; and pain medications. Studies suggest that one in five nursing home residents are victims of medical errors, with thirty-seven percent of those medical errors being medication errors.Reasons for Medication Errors at Jacksonville Nursing Homes
There are many reasons why medication errors in nursing homes occur including: understaffing; unwillingness to pay for expensive medications; diversion of medications; and the failure to accurately transcribe doctors’ orders into the medication administration record. Of these, the reason we see most commonly is understaffing.
Usually, medications are provided by a licensed professional nurse (“LPN”) two times per day: during the day shift from 7 am to 3 pm; and during the evening shift from 3 pm to 11 pm. Nurses are required to provide the medication and document whether the medication was taken. While residents have the option of declining medication, the nurse must note that in the resident’s chart, usually done by circling their initials on the Medication Administration Record. To the untrained eye, this entry may appear as though the medication was provided.
Although nursing home residents have the right to refuse medication, follow-up by the nursing staff is critical. This is because many nursing home residents suffer from confusion or dementia and may not be making sound decisions. In instances where prescribed medication is denied, the nurse must report the denial to the resident’s doctor and to any designated family members. In this manner, the doctor and family can determine how best to handle the situation. Sometimes, a resident only needs to be reassured that a medication is beneficial.
Medication diversion occurs when a nursing home staff member steals a resident’s medication. Of course, narcotic pain medications and tranquilizers are the most likely to be diverted. Because of this, narcotic medications are kept separately at nursing homes in a locked storage. Pain medications are checked out and signed for by the receiving nurse via a controlled substances log that details which resident is receiving the medication.
Unfortunately, due to cognitive issues, many nursing home residents are unable to report that they were not provided with prescribed medications. A study by Mayo Clinic found pain medication theft at nursing homes to be a “a considerable and ongoing problem.”Impacts of Medication Errors at Nursing Homes in Jacksonville
The effect of a medication error for a nursing home resident depends on the type of medication and the amount of medication at issue. Potential consequences of medication errors at Jacksonville nursing homes include:
- Extreme and unabated pain;
- Changes in cognitive functioning;
- The worsening of infection;
- Elevated blood pressure;
- Sickness or diarrhea;
- Failure of organs;
- Fatigue and lethargy;
- Poor levels of rehabilitation; and
- Unabated psychological issues that can lead to harm.
The signs of medication errors can be difficult to notice, especially in older people. Those signs can include: a sudden change in mental status; worsening infection; unabated pain; blood sugar imbalances; unexplained bruising; blood pressure changes; and changes in mood.
Under Florida law, residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have rights. One of these is the right to appropriate healthcare.
Contact a Jacksonville Lawyer If a Relative is has Suffered Injury or death due to a Medication Error in a Nursing Home
The Lawrence Law Group provides prospective clients with a free consultation to discuss their concerns. We help the victims of abuse or neglect in nursing home and assisted living facilities throughout Northeast Florida. Call us at (904) 632-0077.