Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

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Medication errors are a common and serious problem throughout the United States healthcare system. Inadequate training, complex or undefined procedures and poor communication between doctors and nurses can increase the chances of a medication mistake that results in an adverse drug event. Residents of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities are particularly vulnerable to suffering the harmful effects of a medication error due to their total reliance on nursing home staff to administer their medications. Families of those who have been harmed by a medication error caused by negligence may be able to recover compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home facility or person responsible for their loved one’s care.

In 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services released the results of a comprehensive study of adverse effects in skilled nursing facilities. According to the report, mistakes involving medication were the most common cause of harm to patients, accounting for two-thirds of all preventable adverse and temporary harm events. Examples of adverse drug effects related to medication include:

  • Hypoglycemic episodes (low or significant drop in blood glucose)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Allergic reactions
  • Medication-induced delirium or other change in mental status
  • Fall or other trauma with injury associated with medication
  • Cardiac episodes
  • Death

How Medication Mistakes Happen

  • Drug interactions – Nursing home staff should be aware of all other medications taken by patients before administering anything new or risk a potentially fatal drug interaction.
  • Dosing errors – Inattentiveness or carelessness of the part of nursing home staff may cause them to misread instructions on a medication’s label, resulting in a dangerous overdose or under dose. Poor communication or negligent recording practices could result in a medication dose being skipped or cause a patient to receive multiple doses of the same medication.
  • Wrong medication is administered – While most modern healthcare providers recognize the benefits of keeping records and issuing prescriptions electronically, some nursing homes still use paper records, thus allowing for mistakes caused by misread handwriting.
  • Improper handling of medications – Medications labeled “Do not crush or chew” are typically designed to release active ingredients slowly. Cutting or crushing these tablets or capsules before administering them may cause the patient to absorb too much of the medication at one time.
  • Failure to properly mix medications – Some liquids and suspensions require mixing or shaking prior to use. If not mixed properly, the patient may be receive too much or too little of the medicine.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for Victims of Nursing Home Negligence

If someone you love has been harmed by a medication error during their stay in a nursing home, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Call Maryland nursing home malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free review of your case or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent victims of nursing home malpractice throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.