Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions and answers on a broad range of topics related to nursing home abuse and neglect. Browse our FAQs to learn about your legal rights if a loved one has been mistreated, then contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
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Are nursing home medication mistakes considered medical negligence?
Your 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.
Can nursing home neglect cause an elderly resident’s fall injury?
Thousands of nursing home residents are injured in accidental falls every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than half of all nursing home residents fall each year. If the fall happens because of neglectful nursing home staff, that person or the facility could be held liable.
Ways Nursing Home Negligence Can Lead to Falls
When older adults fall, the consequences can be serious. Falls often cause hip fractures, and the complications that can arise as a result can be life-threatening.
There are many potential ways that the negligence of a nursing home facility or its staff could cause a resident to fall. Nursing homes are designed to meet the medical needs of residents, many of whom may have poor balance or cognitive difficulties. When minimum standards are not followed, there can be disastrous consequences for residents.
Some of the most common issues include:
- Understaffing. If there are not enough staff members to take care of residents, this can lead to residents taking matters into their own hands—such as trying to move when it isn’t safe to do so, leading to a fall.
- Undertraining. When nursing home staff are not trained properly, they may neglect patients. Poor supervision of patients can lead to an increased risk of falls.
- Failing to properly assess fall risk. Patients—especially those who have fallen in the past—should be screened regularly to assess their chances of increased falls.
- Unsafe facility. This can include items such as a lack of handrails, slippery floors, exposed electrical cords, and inadequate lighting.
- Medication errors. From providing patients with the wrong kind or amount of medication to failing to take into account the physical side effects of a medication change, nursing homes must be responsible for administering medication properly.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney
When your elderly loved one suffers a fall at a nursing home, an experienced attorney can help you conduct an investigation to find out what happened. If nursing home neglect is discovered to have caused the fall, your loved one could be entitled to damages. Protect their fair recovery by contacting Ben Crittenden today.