Medication Errors

Medication Errors Can Cause Drastic Results for the Elderly

Modern medicines are truly amazing. Particularly for people with chronic ailments, medicines can significantly prolong life or improve the quality of life for people who, only a few decades ago, might not have had any treatment available.

However, nearly every medicine—whether over-the counter or prescription-only—is capable of causing serious adverse effects, including death, when it is:

  • given in the wrong dose;
  • administered outside of the prescribed schedule;
  • administered to a patient who does not have the ailment for which the drug is intended;
  • administered to a patient who has an allergic reaction; or
  • administered to an individual who is taking other medications for which there are adverse affects when combined.

Any one of these errors can cause an “adverse drug event.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, adverse drug events lead to more than 700,000 visits to the emergency room each year, and 17% of these individuals need to be hospitalized. Nearly 177,000 (24%) of these visits are from senior citizens, and they are seven times more likely to require hospitalization.

These statistics should not be surprising. As people age, we often face health issues that may require ongoing treatment with drugs, such as a blood anti-coagulant to prevent stroke or heart attack; insulin to control diabetes; seizure medications; or other strong drugs. A study by the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University in 2006 concluded that nearly 82% of American adults take at least one medication, and 29% take five or more. And when someone is taking more than one drug to treat multiple ailments simultaneously—for which each may require a different dosage and a different schedule—the higher their likelihood of experiencing an adverse drug event. Unfortunately, these elderly patients have less physical strength and stamina to recover easily or successfully from an adverse drug event.

Nursing Homes Have a Duty to Medicate Their Patients as Prescribed

Because many elderly people are completely dependent upon taking their medications regularly in order to maintain a reasonable degree of health, one of the responsibilities of nursing homes is to administer needed medications to their residents as prescribed. Failure to do so can constitute a serious breach of their legal duty, particularly when an adverse drug event presents a significant risk of medical complications or death. When an injury results from a medication error, a nursing home may be liable for negligence. If this occurs, an Oklahoma nursing home abuse attorney may be able to help you seek legal recourse.

Unfortunately, however, medication error is not uncommon in nursing homes. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that nearly 10% of the nursing home patients at the observed facilities experienced at least one medication error, and there is reason to believe that this error rate is consistent with the incidence at other nursing homes across the nation.

All too often, nursing homes are under-staffed, poorly staffed, or inadequately supervised. And when this is the case, it is not uncommon for nursing home personnel to fail to administer needed medications, administer them to the wrong patient, administer them too late, incorrectly dose patients, or even fail to keep the requisite amount of medications on hand.

With alarming frequency, nursing home staff make serious medication errors. Even worse, many of these errors occur repeatedly, because rotating personnel will fail to catch errors or to correct records regarding the appropriate dosage and scheduling of patient medications. While some adverse drug events cannot be anticipated, a large proportion of medication errors committed in nursing homes are entirely preventable by careful record-keeping, monitoring, and scheduling.

If You are Someone You Love Has Been the Victim of an Oklahoma City Nursing Home Medication Error, Call Us

If you or someone you care for has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, whether from a medication error or another cause, the attorneys at Shelton Walkley Mackey in Oklahoma City can help. We have extensive experience representing the residents of nursing homes and their survivors who have suffered personal injury to recover for pain and suffering damages, medical costs, and even for wrongful death.

If you are aware of a nursing home resident who has been injured by a medication error, or you are the relative of a nursing home resident and you notice that your loved one has experienced a health downturn that you suspect is the result of a medication error, contact Shelton Walkley Mackey as soon as possible. We are happy to assist all clients in Oklahoma County and the surrounding communities. Call (405) 605-8800 or use the online inquiry form. We will be happy to evaluate your case at no cost.

When someone you love is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, do not wait until the unthinkable happens.