Even though placing an elderly relative in a nursing home can be a difficult decision, it is often the best strategy for ensuring your loved one receives the care he or she needs. Of course, as individuals age, they often take both prescription and over-the-counter medication to treat illnesses, chronic conditions or injuries. If care providers fail to administer medication correctly, your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse.
In some nursing homes, problems with medication are, unfortunately, common. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that roughly 20% of nursing home patients receive inadequate care. Of these, more than 35% experience medication errors. Typically, medication irregularities present themselves in a few different ways.
Care providers administer the wrong medication
Perhaps the most common problem with medication occurs when care providers give patients either incorrect medication or an improper dose. As you likely know, nursing homes are often busy places. Sometimes, they have insufficient staff to stay on top of medication. To complicate matters, many patients require medication at various times throughout the day and night.
Doctors prescribe the wrong medication
Nurses are not the only healthcare professionals who make mistakes. On the contrary, physicians may misdiagnose or mistreat medical conditions. As such, your loved one may receive medication he or she does not need. Alternatively, a physician may neglect to check for drug interactions, causing your aging relative’s condition to worsen. Either way, when doctors make mistakes, nursing home patients often suffer.
Nurses overmedicate patients
Nurses tend to have wide latitude to medicate patients. That is, they may have a list of prescription drugs they can use on an as-needed basis. Painkillers, antipsychotic drugs, sedatives and antidepressants are common on these lists. If healthcare providers keep your loved one unnecessarily overmedicated, you may have to worry about nursing home abuse.
Someone intentionally administers medication incorrectly
Finally, not all medication problems happen because of negligence or mistakes. Sometimes, healthcare providers intentionally administer medication incorrectly. With the opioid epidemic raging, someone at the nursing home may steal prescription medication from your loved one. If your aging relative is not receiving necessary medication because of someone else’s malfeasance, his or her medical conditions may worsen.
Finding the right nursing home for your aging loved one is only part of the battle. You also must ensure your family member receives adequate care at the facility. If you think problems exist with medication, you must act quickly to stop such nursing home abuse.