Nursing Home Neglect in New York: Medication Errors
The likelihood of medication errors increases with the number of drugs a person is taking. In nursing homes throughout New York, most elderly residents have reached a stage in their lives where the proper dosage of medication is critical to maintaining their health and quality of life. Unfortunately, New York City nursing homes sometimes make preventable medication mistakes that can cause serious injury or even death. Computerized systems for dispensing and monitoring medication are expensive, and most nursing homes cannot afford them. In addition, the fact that nursing home patients may be treated by several different doctors can lead to medication mistakes and adverse drug reactions.
Within a given month, more than two-thirds of New York City nursing home patients may be taking 9 or more prescription drugs. Nearly a third of Nursing Home or assisted living may be taking as many as 20 or more medications. Only a small number of medication errors result in adverse drug reactions, but more than half are caused by human error, and are often the signs of nursing home neglect When adverse drug events do occur, the consequences can be serious and may include falls and fractures, incontinence, malnutrition, dehydration, over sedation, delirium, and behavior problems. Some medications are more commonly associated with preventable adverse drug reactions than others, such as anticoagulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants, sedatives, and hypnotics.
Causes of Medication Errors
Within a given month, more than two-thirds of nursing home patients may be taking 9 or more prescription drugs. Nearly a third may be taking as many as 20 or more medications. Only a small number of medication errors result in adverse drug reactions, but more than half are caused by human error.
Nursing home medication errors in New York may be due to a variety of circumstances:
- Lack of proper patient assessment.
- Lack of monitoring for medication’s strength and effectiveness.
- Lack of monitoring for adverse drug reactions.
- Lack of reassessment for continuous need of medication.
- Failure to consider drug interactions.
- Failure to recognize adverse drug reactions.
Nursing homes that are understaffed, or whose medical and nursing staff is poorly trained, are at increased risk of the following errors:
- Administering medications late.
- Administering the wrong medication.
- Missing a dose and then giving double dosage at a later time.
- Substituting one medication for another (e.g. aspirin for Oxycontin).
The best way to prevent nursing home medication errors is to ensure that physicians are properly trained in geriatric practice and pharmacology. Doctors need to be aware of the most up-to-date assessment tools and drug information. Nursing assessment skills are also critical, since staff must be trained to distinguish adverse drug events from common geriatric conditions and notify doctors immediately when problems occur.
If you believe that a relative in a nursing home has been harmed by medication error, consult an attorney who is knowledgeable about this area of practice.
Contact NYC Nursing Home Medication Error Lawyers
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