Errors in administering medication can cause serious injury and can be deadly. Some of the most common medication mistakes are caused by understaffing, misdiagnosis, confusion regarding the administration of medication, and incorrect transcriptions of dosages or prescriptions. The fact that many nursing homes are understaffed with remaining staff members that are overworked increases the likelihood of medication errors occurring. A staff member may be distracted while administering medications and may make a mistake. A staff member administering medications should not feel as though they are being rushed, as this can lead to medication errors.
Medication errors can be knowledge-based, rule-based, action-based, or memory-based:
Knowledge-based errors happen when a staff member does not have enough information on the medication being administered to a resident. They may be unaware of a resident’s medical history, allergies, diet, or other prescriptions. Not knowing this information could lead to a preventable reaction.
Rule-based errors occur when employees neglect to follow protocol, intentionally or unintentionally. This happens when a nurse is improperly trained, fatigued, confused about a rule, or is unclear on the prescription instructions.
Action-based errors happen when employees have the correct information but make a mistake anyway. These are the most common types of medication errors. A nurse might write down the wrong prescription, pick up the wrong bottle off the pharmacy shelf, or misread a label.
Memory-based errors affect how medication is administered. If a resident receives a number of medications and a nurse administers one twice without realizing it, serious consequences could ensue. These errors are often made when staff are overworked and fatigued.
Medication errors can take many forms, including administration of expired medications, administering incorrect dosages, missing or skipping dosages of medications, using incorrect technique for administering a medication, administering medication at incorrect times, failing to provide food or liquid with medications as ordered, administering the wrong medication, administering a medication in the wrong form, and failing to monitor the resident after administering medication.
If your loved one has suffered injury or death as the result of a medication administration error by nursing home staff, the attorneys at Dworken and Bernstein can help you to hold the nursing home responsible and accountable.