Nursing Homes Are Prone to Commit Errors

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

No one likes admitting that they cannot take care of their loved ones. Putting your grandparent or parent in a nursing home is felt like an admission of defeat, like you can’t or won’t care for them. So people are often reluctant to place them in home and may spend weeks or months researching the perfect facility. But don’t be fooled by their impressive sales pitch or clean walls. Many nursing homes are prone to commit errors where it matters most, dispensing medication.

A study that was published in the Journal of American Medical Information found that nursing homes commit medication errors about 21 percent of the time. The study was examining the efficacy of robotic medication dispensers as a tool to reduce medication errors. These machines were introduced into hospitals decades ago and were very successful in reducing errors. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for nursing homes.

The researchers identified several problems areas. First, nursing home staff retrieves the medication on a weekly basis. So there is an entire week for the staff to make errors. The researchers observed numerous errors, luckily none of them fatal, however the study did not observe the long-term effects of these minor errors.

Specifically the study noted that nursing home staff tends to be more lax around residents that they know and trust. Those residents may have a mental disease that requires the staff observe them take their medication, if they don’t it is possible the resident may forget or refuse to ingest it. The researchers also noticed a consistent refusal to read the instructions on the bottles. Residents often cannot ingest solid foods. So staff will crush their pills and capsules and give it to them in water. Unfortunately, if they had read the label, they would know that this reduces the effectiveness of some medications.

If your parent or grandparent is not receiving adequate care from their nursing home and refuses to enact changes then you may want to speak to a lawyer. People tend to put nursing homes in the same category as hospitals but they are not. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that nursing homes will follow strict procedures when it comes to caring for your loved one. Be vigilant regarding their care.

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