Medication Errors: A Common Problem in Nursing Homes
Many older adults in West Virginia and across the country spend their final years in nursing homes. In these facilities, individuals who cannot care for themselves have access to 24-hour monitoring and access to medical services.
Nursing homes provide their residents with the medical care, socialization and modified living environment they need when illnesses and disabilities make it impossible for them to live on their own. In most cases, individuals are placed in nursing homes by their children or other loved ones who feel it is the best choice for them.
Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home can be difficult, especially with stories and reports of nursing home neglect and abuse in these facilities.
Physical abuse, financial exploitation, sexual abuse and neglect are all issues faced by a significant portion of the residents of American nursing homes, as reported by the National Center on Elder Abuse.
The NCEA report discusses a 2000 study which found that 44 percent of American nursing home residents said they had been abused, while 95 percent said they had either been neglected by their caretakers or seen other residents suffer from caretaker neglect.
Medication errors and other types of abuse and neglect in nursing homes can put patients at risk of becoming ill or experiencing worsened conditions.
Sometimes, patients die because of medication errors.
If you suspect your loved one has suffered harm as a result of a medication error or other type of neglect or abuse in his or her nursing home, you could be entitled to seek monetary compensation on his or her behalf for any expenses associated with the worsened condition.
Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
According to a 2014 article published by ProPublica, one in three residents of skilled nursing facilities suffers from medication errors or other types of harm during their treatment in these facilities.
This is higher than the rate of medical errors in hospitals, according to the inspector general for Medicare.
Examples of other types of harm include infections developing as a result of poor hygiene or monitoring of a wound and failure to diagnose a medical problem within an appropriate time frame.
Skilled nursing facilities are not nursing homes, but they are often housed in the same buildings as nursing homes.
A skilled nursing facility is a facility that provides a safe, monitored place for patients to recover after being treated in hospitals. They often also provide rehabilitation services.
Ninety percent of the more than 15,000 skilled nursing facilities in the U.S. are also certified as nursing homes, which are facilities that provide residents with long-term care.
In the study reported by ProPublica, the doctors who reviewed the injured patients' records found that 59 percent of their injuries were preventable. Sometimes, patients were given medication intended for other patients. In other cases, patients' medication schedules were overlooked, or individuals were skipped by negligent or misinformed caretakers. Eleven percent of patients surveyed suffered from temporary harm as a result of doctor errors, and 22 percent of the patients suffered long-lasting or permanent harm. A reported 1.5 percent of patients died as a result of these errors.]
The Wider Problem of Nursing Home Abuse
Medication errors are often the result of negligence or neglect from a caretaker. They can also be considered to be a form of physical abuse.
Although most people imagine hitting, kicking and other means of inflicting physical pain upon a victim when they hear the words, "physical abuse," this term can cover other behaviors as well.
Actions like restraining an individual against his or her will or failing to provide him or her with the medication or sustenance he or she needs can also be considered forms of physical abuse.
Other types of harm that can occur in nursing homes include emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and psychological abuse. Abuse can happen in any type of nursing home or assisted living facility.[/su_column]
In a study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, as detailed by ABC News, 30 percent of the 5,283 nursing homes surveyed between during a three-year period were cited for abuse claims. These claims totaled more than 9,000.
The Wider Problem of Neglect in Nursing Homes
Neglect of residents' needs is also a serious problem in America's nursing homes. Neglect can happen for a variety of reasons. A few examples of conditions that lead to nursing home neglect include:
- Overburdened nurses and caregivers. In nursing homes and other care facilities, staff members can be easily overwhelmed by the number of patients they are assigned and these patients' needs.
- Failure to respond to patients' needs. With patients who do not speak English or have lost their ability to communicate effectively due to dementia or other conditions, caregivers need to be extra observant and understand their patients' needs. Sometimes, a patient can be overlooked because of a lack of communication.
- Inadequate training. Staff members simply may not know how to respond to patients' needs.
When nursing home neglect involves the failure to give a resident the medication he or she needs, it becomes dangerous and can be grounds for a nursing home neglect claim. Through such a claim, a resident and his or her loved one can seek compensation for the damages caused by the neglect, which could be a worsened condition.
Contact Our West Virginia Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
You naturally want to protect your loved ones - especially those who cannot protect themselves from harm. The thought of your loved one being a victim of abuse or neglect in his or her nursing home can be frightening.
But remember: It can happen.
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of a medication treatment or another type of abuse or negligence at the hands of his or her caretakers, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.
Contact our team of experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, today to schedule your initial legal consultation with our team.