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Know how medication errors occur in nursing homes

Moving your loved one into a nursing home can be an experience fraught with concern, especially after hearing reports of abuse and neglect. At DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., we have seen firsthand how medication errors easily occur in adult care facilities and the devastating effects these mistakes can have on an entire family.

To prevent these errors, you first have to know understand how they occur. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that adverse reactions to medications are not only common, but up to half of them are preventable. Types of mistakes include the following: 

  •        Giving a patient the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
  •        Administering medication to the wrong patient
  •        Giving a patient medication to which he or she has an allergy
  •        Not giving enough food or water with the medication

Additionally, drug handling can lead to an adverse reaction. For example, a nurse may crush a pill that should not be crushed. Or, a staff member may fail to shake or mix the medication properly before giving it to the patient.

One of the ways to prevent a mistake is that these facilities could use a web-based reporting system. A study published by the National Institutes of Health found that logging mistakes online could actually help staff to identify common themes and reduce the incidence of the errors.

Additionally, residents or their families should ensure that the staff members have an up-to-date medical record that lists all current medications as well as any allergies. Speaking to a physician about any prescribed medicine and possible side effects can also reduce the odds of experiencing an adverse event.

For more information on this topic, please visit our page on medication mistakes.

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