Nursing Home Lawyer PA

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Nursing Home Medication Errors

Nursing home neglect lawyers litigate cases in which medication errors produce serious or fatal outcomes. Across the United States, 800,000 medication errors are attributed to nursing homes annually. These errors can have a long-term effects on a resident’s life. Nursing homes care for medically fragile individuals who often suffer from several comorbid conditions, require multiple mediations, and have cognitive deficit that prevent them from fully understanding their medications. Nursing home neglect lawyers understand that these factors contribute to nursing home medication errors

Medication use at a nursing home requires multiple steps with multiple people involved. Errors can occur during any one of the following steps:

  • Drug prescription by the provider
  • Drug transcription into an electronic health record (EHR)
  • Preparing a medication at the pharmacy
  • Dispensing the medication at the pharmacy
  • Administering the medication to the resident

Medication malpractice lawyers outline 5 factors that frequently result in medication errors.

Factor #1: Human Errors

Nursing home neglect lawyers earmark that stress, lack of time, and an excessive patient caseload due to nursing home understaffing as contributing to medication errors. While human factors can result in errors, these errors are typically also related to the systems and processes in place at the facility. Examples of medication errors from human factors include:

  • A nurse miscalculates an IV drip rate due to lack of training.
  • During order transcription, a nurse notices multiple call bells alarming. Due to other priorities competing for her attention, she makes a data entry error when documenting a physician’s verbal order into the patient’s medical chart
  • A nurse misreads an order and provides the incorrect medication dose to the patient

Medication malpractice lawyers assert that the poor teamwork at the nursing home can influence the likelihood of medication errors. Lack of team cohesion and communication may contribute to medication errors.

Factor #2: Processes and Systems

Facility systems and processes for prescribing, managing, and administering medications are often the underlying cause of the error. According to nursing home neglect lawyers, common factors that contribute to medication errors include:

  • Staff are undertrained
  • Lack of written policies regarding medication administration
  • Improper use of the Emergency Box
  • Medication diversion
  • Interruptions or distractions during order entry or administration
  • Medication reconciliation not done, or completed with errors

Medication reconciliation processes are especially critical to assure resident safety. Facilities that lack proper systems and procedures to reconcile medications can miss changes to the resident’s medications, which can result in serious medical problems for the resident. Transitions of care are critical times to review and reconcile resident medications. According to medication malpractice lawyers, approximately half of all medication errors occur during a transition of care, or a time when a resident is transitioning from one health care facility to another.

Factor #3: Communication Errors

In nursing homes, multiple clinicians are involved every time a new medication is ordered. The provider – which may be a physician, nursing practitioner, or physician assistant depending on state regulations – initiates the process by ordering a medication. Often, the physician gives the order to a nurse to transcribe it into the patient’s chart. The nurse sends the medication order to the pharmacy, where it is the pharmacist reviews it. Finally, the medication is approved and sent to nursing home, where the nurse administers it to the resident.

Illegible handwriting on physician orders is a widespread problem within the nursing home industry. Many nursing homes have failed to implement electronic health records (EHRs) and depend on hand-written documentation. In addition to illegible handwriting, many prescribers and clinicians continue to use unsafe abbreviations that can lead to medication errors. Nursing home neglect lawyers can hire medical experts to review resident charts and determine if communication problems resulted in a serious medication error.

Factor #4: Name Mix-Ups

Name confusion accounts for approximately 25% of all wrong drug errors. A nurse may erroneously provide one resident’s medication to another resident with a similar name. Another common error occurs when a medication is mistaken for a medication with a look-alike or sound-alike name. Nursing home neglect lawyers have litigated cases in which medication errors due to name confusion resulted in serious injuries or death. Commonly confused medications include:

  • hydromorphone and Morphine
  • Celexa and Celebrex
  • Alprazolam and Lorazepam
  • Lamictal and Lamisil
  • Bupropion and Buspirone
  • Klonopin and clonidine
  • oxycodone and MS Contin

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PA-PSA) reports that the most serious errors occurring from name confusion involve high alert medications. The agency shares that insulin products account for 9% of the reports, and 21% of reports involve opiate narcotics. Confusion between Morphine and hydromorphone accounts for 32% of opiate narcotic name-confused medication errors

Factor #5: Packaging and Label Problems

Medications labels may have vital information that is obscured or missing can have serious patient impacts. Medication malpractice lawyers have litigated cases where errors occurred because important information was printed inconspicuously on the label or was overshadowed by other labeling information. Unnecessary pictures, such as large, corporate logos, can distract the user from important information about the medication. Environmental factors, such as reading a label in poor lighting or rushing to read the label quickly due to an emergency may contribute to a medication error.

Call Today to Speak with an Attorney

Call our nursing home neglect lawyers if you believe that a nursing home medication error resulted in serious injury or death of your loved one. Our firm offers a free case review and evaluation to determine if a standard of care was breached during the medication prescribing, dispensing, or administration processes. Call 888-789-3161 or send us a message via the online form to speak directly with an attorney.


Contact the Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers at Our Firm

The nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm understand the plight of the nation’s nursing home residents. No one should be subject to neglect and substandard care in long term care facilities. Our attorneys will partner with you to take a stand against underperforming nursing homes and seek compensation for their injuries. Call us today or send us a message to speak directly with an nursing home neglect lawyer.

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