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Nursing homes are an amazing way to make sure that your loved ones are being cared for and are getting the service that they deserve. They offer the most extensive care a person can get outside of a hospital offering help with custodial care, such as bathing, getting dressed, and eating, as well as skilled cared. Skilled nursing care is given by a registered nurse and includes medical monitoring and treatments.

Medical professionals in nursing homes deal with the most precious and delicate commodity of all:  life. It is practically essential in a medical occupation to achieve perfection. Nurses, no matter how logical they may be, and how prepared they are to do the best possible job, are still humans capable of making errors.

Studies suggest that one in five nursing home residents suffer from medical errors. Sadly, 37% of those medical errors are medication errors, accounting for nearly ¼ of all medical malpractice cases in the United States. A medication error is defined as mistakes that are made while making or administrating a resident’s medication by a physician, nurse or caregiver. Medication errors include incorrect dosage, incorrect method of administration and even providing the incorrect medication to the wrong patient.

Most medication errors are genuinely made by human error, but sadly medication errors are a serious and pervasive problem, often caused by negligence and malpractice. Negligent medication errors occur when staff administers expired medication, the wrong dosage, documenting incorrectly, following wrong implemented ‘med pass’ routines, giving too much or too little medication, and giving at the wrong time or rate. Medication malpractice is more when ignoring an order, poor medication management during ‘med pass’, knowingly substituting wrong medication, and diversions of the correct medication.

Although most errors cause minor effects, there is a huge spectrum of consequences, including the possibility of death. In fact, approximately 7,000 deaths are the result of medication errors. Other possible consequences to medication error are unexpected medical complications, reduced immune responses, failure to organs, malnutrition and dehydration.

More often than not, mistakes become more common during extended shift hours, heavier workloads and the simple matter of inexperience. However, the most common cause of medication errors is incomplete patient information, meaning staff not knowing a patients’ medical history, previous treatments/diagnoses, allergies or current medications. Another cause of medication errors can be miscommunication. Messy or illegible handwriting, confusion with decimal points, mix ups between drugs with similar sounding names and even medical abbreviations can be misunderstood resulting in a medication error.

If this has happened to a loved one of yours and you would like to speak with an attorney for free to discuss your options, please contact us at any time.