Medication Errors and Abuse by Nursing Home Staff
Posted in Medical Malpractice on October 13, 2021
We trust nursing home facilities to take good care of our elderly loved ones, but sometimes, this care is subpar or worse. Residents of nursing homes can suffer serious abuse at the hands of staff, leading to physical, emotional, financial, and social consequences.
In very serious situations, nursing home staff members carelessly or intentionally commit errors while providing medication to residents, leading to severe, potentially fatal consequences. If you or a loved one experienced medical abuse by a nursing home staff member, you have grounds for legal action.
Types of Medication Errors
A prescription error occurs when a patient receives improper medication, often resulting in patient injury. In nursing homes, common medication mistakes include the following.
- Giving too much or too little medication
- Administering the wrong medication
- Using an improper administration technique
- Documenting the resident’s medication administration incorrectly
- Failure to monitor a resident after administering medication
- Administering the wrong strength of a medicine
Common Causes of Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
In nursing homes, medication errors can occur for several reasons. Understaffing and burnout may lead to tired employees who unintentionally give a patient too much medication or forget to provide a dose. A physician may misdiagnose a patient’s condition and provide the nursing home with the wrong prescription.
In most cases, nursing home medication errors can occur due to knowledge errors, rule errors, action errors, and lapses in memory.
- Knowledge-based errors occur when a staff member lacks the information necessary to properly administer a medication to a resident. For example, the staff member may not know that a patient is allergic to a medication but administers it anyway, leading to a reaction.
- Rule-based errors occur when nursing home staff fail to follow protocol when administering medication. These errors can be intentional or accidental.
- Action-based errors occur when nursing home staff have the knowledge to administer the medication but commit a mistake anyway. For example, a staff member may grab the wrong bottle of a medication before administering it to a patient.
- Memory errors often occur due to fatigue and overworked staff. If a nursing home staff member forgets that he or she had already administered a medication and provides a second dose, for example, the patient can suffer serious consequences.
Your Legal Options After a Medication Error
If you or a loved one were injured due to a medication error in a nursing home, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault staff member and the facility itself. To secure compensation in your claim, however, you will need to prove that negligence caused the error.
Nursing homes and their employees have a duty to care for elderly residents. If a staff member fails to uphold this duty and commits a medication mistake, leading to injury, he or she may be liable for any damages that the patient suffers. His or her employer will also be liable for these losses.
A staff member’s breach of duty could be a negligent act, such as intentionally giving a resident too much of a medication or failing to keep adequate drug administration records. It could also be a failure to act, such as neglecting to administer medication at all.
If you believe that you qualify for a nursing home lawsuit, speak to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A Missouri nursing home lawsuit attorney can help you understand your legal options and hold the at-fault facility accountable for your losses.