Since most New York nursing home residents are elderly or disabled, many take medications. Typically, residents rely on nursing home employees to administer these drugs.
Medications are crucial to maintaining residents’ health and well-being, but they also present a serious risk. Errors in the type of medication or the dosage can lead to serious and potentially fatal harm. Deaths caused by medication errors are considered preventable. Sadly, they are often the result of neglect or abuse.
If you believe a loved one was the victim of a medication error in a nursing home in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York, you should seek legal help as soon as possible.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we understand how daunting the process can seem when you first discover that a loved one has suffered this form of neglect or abuse. We can help you at every step along the way and thoroughly investigate how the neglect or abuse occurred. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation.
What Are Medication Errors?
Medication errors can occur when a physician, nurse or patient makes a mistake somewhere between a doctor prescribing the medication and the patient taking it. Unfortunately, they are quite common. For example, at U.S. skilled nursing facilities, 37 percent of adverse health events suffered by Medicare beneficiaries are medication-related, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports.
There are many types of medication errors, including:
- Failure to provide medication to a patient in need
- Administering the wrong medication
- Administering the wrong dosage
- Administering medications that interact adversely with each other or exacerbate the patient’s medical condition.
Medication errors can arise due to a variety of circumstances, and usually they are not the patient’s fault. They include:
- Miscommunication in ordering and dispensing medication
- Flawed procedures and systems for prescribing and administering drugs
- Failure to monitor administration or patients’ use of medications
- Lack of education among those handling medications
- Problems with product packaging and labeling
- Problems caused in compounding (combining drugs)
- Misuse of medications (off-label or unapproved uses).
In recent years, the misuse of powerful antipsychotics on patients with dementia has increasingly been a concern. About one in three dementia patients in nursing homes take antipsychotics, or more than double the figure for those who live at home, National Public Radio reports. Meanwhile, many medical professionals agree that antipsychotics are usually unwarranted as these drugs can cause harmful side effects.
How Do Medication Errors Harm Nursing Home Residents?
For better or worse, medication has a powerful effect on the body. When errors are committed, they can cause harm in many different ways. Victims of medication errors can suffer from:
- Medication-induced delirium or other change in mental status
- Excessive bleeding due to medication
- Falls or other trauma with injury secondary to effects of medication
- Constipation related to medication
- Hypoglycemic episodes
- Thrush and other non-surgical infections related to medication
- Allergic reactions to medications such as rashes and itching.
What Can You Do If Your Loved One Has Suffered a Medication Error?
If you suspect that a loved one has suffered from a medication error due to abuse or neglect in New York, you should submit a complaint to the NYS Department of Health. You can call the Nursing Home Complaint hotline at (888) 201-4563 or use the online Nursing Home Complaint Form. The state is legally required to investigate all complaints of abuse, neglect and mistreatment in nursing homes.
Be ready to provide information about the resident, your relationship to him or her, the facility in question and a description of the suspected abuse.
In addition to reporting medication errors caused by neglect to the state, you should also seek legal help. A lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the nature of the neglect or abuse and help to identify who is responsible. An attorney can also help you to be fairly compensated for medical expenses, pain, suffering and other types of harm that resulted from a medication error in a nursing home.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our nursing home abuse lawyers are ready to talk to you and help you move through the next legal steps. We serve clients in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York. You have nothing to lose as our consultations with experienced lawyers are free and completely confidential.
Sources / More Information
- About Medication Errors, National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention
- GAO Report Urges Fewer Antipsychotic Drugs For Dementia Patients, National Public Radio
- Adverse Events in Skilled Nursing Facilities: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services