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Medication errors are subtle but frequent in nursing homes

Our aging population means more people are going to need nursing homes when they can no longer care for themselves. Assisted living manifests in many ways, from residents who need assistance getting out of bed to bathe and dress to those who require help preparing and eating meals. Managing medications also is critical for someone who cannot track or administer the dosage.

According to U.S. News & World Report, there are 1.5 million people living in U.S. nursing homes, many of whom need hands-on service. There is a chronic shortage of caregivers to tend to them here in Florida and across the country. But that does not mean your mom or dad should suffer because of inattention or indifference. Certainly not when their lives depend on it.

Was your loved one improperly medicated?

Nursing home residents often take several medications during the day. Some require caregivers to split pills or provide them with food. Giving meds to the wrong patient can be doubly dangerous. Unfortunately, medication errors are common in long-term care facilities.

A University of North Carolina study of 25 state nursing homes revealed 631 medication errors, 51 of which were serious enough to necessitate monitoring or intervention. Another National Institutes of Health study analyzed medication errors in 294 nursing homes and found 37% of the errors were repeated one or more times.

The ramifications can be serious if a nursing home failed to properly administer your loved one’s medication. Overdoses can leave them at risk for seizures and other physical and psychological symptoms:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness or falls
  • Withdrawal from family or friends during visits
  • Hallucinations
  • Fractures
  • Ulcers

Elderly residents are often physically weak or frail. Others suffer from mental health problems such as Alzheimer’s that makes them especially defenseless and unable to monitor their medicines. Nursing homes have a responsibility to give accurate and timely doses. If they mistreat your loved one, there are remedies.

Hold the nursing home accountable

Nursing home residents are entitled to respect and dignity. Normally, these facilities provide safe and constructive environments for elderly people to thrive and maintain quality of life.

It is not always easy to spot nursing home negligence or abuse. But when these facilities fail, they should be held accountable so your loved one can receive justice.

 

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