Are nursing home medication mistakes considered medical negligence?

Nursing Home Patient With a Nursing Home EmployeeYour loved one is in a nursing home because she needs skilled care that cannot be provided at home. You trust the nursing home staff to take good care of her, including giving her the medication she needs at the right time and in accurate dosages. If a mistake is made and your loved one is injured, you might be able to sue the nursing home for medical malpractice, but you will have to be able to prove that they were negligent.

Types of Medication Errors

Nursing home residents are often on multiple life-sustaining medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic pain, hyper- or hypothyroidism, infections, heart conditions, reflux, and diabetes. When mistakes are made with these medications, the patient can suffer serious injuries. Common medication errors include:

  • Failing to give a medication dose
  • Giving a resident someone else’s medication
  • Giving a resident the wrong dosage of their own medication
  • Administering medication more than once, resulting in an overdose
  • Administering a medication incorrectly, such as without fluids
  • Giving medication that was not prescribed

These kinds of mistakes can lead to serious illness or, in some tragic cases, death.

Not Every Mistake Is a Crime

Even when a medication mistake harms a patient, that doesn’t mean negligence has occurred. Reading a chart wrong, misidentifying a patient, or grabbing a mislabeled bottle could all be honest mistakes. However, if you can prove that the staff was negligent in some way and that the negligence led to a medication error, you might have a claim for nursing home malpractice. Examples of nursing home negligence include:

  • Understaffing. If a facility doesn’t have enough people working to adequately care for patients, and residents do not receive their prescriptions as a result, this is a sign of negligence.
  • Poor record-keeping. Nursing homes must have a system for tracking who gets what medication when. If this is not done, and patients are not given their meds or are double-medicated, the nursing home can be held accountable. 
  • Untrained aides. Medication should only be administered by nurses trained to do so. If untrained personnel are giving out medications incorrectly, you will likely have grounds for negligence.
  • Overmedicating. Disreputable facilities might use drugs to keep their patients sedated. This is a form of abuse and is illegal.

Determining exactly what happened to cause your loved one’s injury or death will not be easy, but a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help.

What to Do If Your Loved One Is Injured

If your loved one has suffered an unexplained illness or died unexpectedly, a medication error could be to blame. You will need help obtaining records and piecing together what went wrong. At the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, we are committed to protecting the rights of nursing home residents. Call our office to discuss your loved one’s illness or death. We are here to help.