Nursing Home Lawyer PA

Nursing Home Medication Error

Nursing home medication errors are preventable, dangerous mistakes that put elderly residents at risk. Nursing homes must abide by federal and state laws that that require them to safely administer medications. These medications must be prescribed by a licensed physician and administered as intended. Too often, nurses and medication technicians fail to administer the medicine correctly, which can result in a serious injury. A nursing home medication error may be a reason for a personal injury claim.

Most nursing home residents take about three to eight medications. About 40% of nursing home residents have highly complex medication regiments of nine or more medications. Residents who take multiple medications may have an increased risk of these medicines interacting with each other, or having the medications administered incorrectly by staff. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that 16-27% of all nursing home residents are victims of medication errors. While many of these result in little or no harm, some medication errors can be very serious or even fatal.

Any deviation from a physician’s order or manufacturer instructions may be considered a medication error. There are several root causes for medication errors.

Root causes for medication Errors

  • Knowledge Error – The staff member does not have enough information about the medication they are supposed to administer, or they are unaware of the patient’s medical history including allergies
  • Rule Error – The staff member fails to follow a protocol. This often occurs when the nurse is tired, improperly trained, or is confused about the protocol.
  • Action Error – The staff member has all the correct information and makes a mistake anyways. For example, a nurse misreads an order and administers the incorrect dose of a medication
  • Memory Error – The staff member forgets that she already administered a medication and provides it a second time or fails to remember to administer it all. This type of error is also likely to happen when a nurse is fatigued, or the nursing home is understaffed.

These errors can occur at any nursing home. But our experience shows that they are more likely to occur in nursing homes that have poor communication between providers, or where understaffing is prevalent. In either case, it’s the elderly resident who is victimized.

Examples of medication errors

Common nursing home medication errors include:

  • Use of expired medications
  • Incorrect dose or infusion rate
  • Failure to administer a prescribed medication
  • Overdosing
  • Underdosing
  • Medication administered to the wrong patient
  • Medications are crushed when prohibited by manufacturer
  • Patient with swallowing disorder chokes on oral medications

While improper administration of some medications may cause no or minor injury, mis-administering certain medications can extremely serious. The following medications are often not administered correctly, and they can cause serious harm to the elderly patient.

  • Warfarin
  • Opioids (oxycontin, hydrocodone)
  • Methadone
  • Heparin
  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer medications
  • Insulin
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl


Nursing home medication error lawsuit

In simple situations, a nursing home medication error may be caused by a basic, human mistake. These mistakes can be classified as nursing home negligence. But many times, the medication error envelopes multiple defendants, such as the discharging hospital, the pharmacy, or a physician group working at the nursing home. Cases with multiple defendants can be very complex, and a skilled nursing home lawyer is needed to investigate the liability of each defendant.

When a nursing home error results in serious injury, victims and their families have the right to seek justice for their loved one through a legal claim. This claim usually starts with the resident or their family meeting with the attorney to describe what occurred. The attorney will help to retrieve and review the medical records on behalf the client. This usually includes review of the medication administration record, the physician orders, laboratory results, and nursing notes. The attorneys at our firm work with medical experts familiar with geriatrics, so that a thorough review of the medical record is performed. If the injury sustained was the result of a nursing home medication error, the attorney can advise you on the next steps in filing a claim.

If you or a loved one was injured due to medication errors, contact our nursing home medication error lawyers now. Elderly residents of nursing home deserve proper care and treatment. Our lawyers can help your family get answers during this difficult chapter of your life. Call us today for a free consultation.