When Is a Medication Error a Case of Nursing Home Abuse?

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Most nursing home residents take medication (HHS, Medication Use). Not only do they depend on their prescriptions, but their medication regimens often consist of several drugs.

Nursing home residents may become victims of medication errors. These errors may amount to nursing home abuse and neglect.

Lawyer Robert “Bobby” Jones explains medication errors and when it may be a case of nursing home abuse.

Understanding Nursing Home Medication Errors

A nursing home medication error occurs when a resident fails to receive the medication they need, when they receive medication they don’t need or when they receive the wrong dose or type of administration.

Proper medication administration in a nursing home means ensuring that the right person receives their medication, at the right time, in the right way and in the right amount. Caregivers may use medication to abuse a patient through overmedication or withholding medication.

Types of Nursing Home Medication Errors

  • Giving the wrong medication
  • Incorrect dose
  • Too much or too little time between doses
  • Threatening to withhold medication
  • Overprescribing, using medication to control a resident
  • Incorrect way to administer the drug

There are underlying reasons why medication errors occur. Human error is a large factor. Despite electronic recordkeeping, mistakes can still happen.

Most common drugs for medication errors in long-term facilities

According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, 28% of all medication errors involve just seven drugs:

  • Lorazepam
  • Oxycodone
  • Warfarin
  • Furosemide
  • Hydrocodone
  • Insulin
  • Fentanyl

The truth is that a medication error can happen with any drug or combination of drugs in a nursing home.

Source: Pierson, et. all., Qual Saf Health Care., Preventing medication errors in long‐term care: results and evaluation of a large scale web‐based error reporting system

Nursing Home Medication Regulations

Nursing home medication regulations in the State of South Carolina:

  • Administration of medication must follow doctor’s orders.
  • The person prescribing medication must be legally authorized to prescribe medication for humans.
  • Care providers must follow state law in the administration of medication.
  • Containers must be appropriately labeled.
  • Doses must be verified.
  • Ingestion or application of the dose must be verified.
  • Record keeping is required, including dates, times, doses, mode of administration or person giving the drug.
  • The same nurse or authorized healthcare provider must prepare the dose and administer it. Preparing more than one dose at a time is not allowed.
  • Self-administration is allowed, but it must be ordered by an authorized healthcare professional and verified. A facility may choose to prohibit self-administration.
  • Controlled substances must be reviewed and documented at each shift change. Discrepancies must be accounted for.
  • Pharmacy services must comply with state, federal and local laws and regulations.

These are some of the regulations that apply to medication administration in nursing homes. Regulations may come from federal, state, and local sources, including laws and departmental regulations.

Source: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Regulation 61-17, Standards for Licensing Nursing Homes.

Withholding Medication and Nursing Home Abuse

When a resident depends on their medication, a nursing home not giving them their drugs correctly can make the resident a victim of abuse. When a person lives in a nursing home, they have a right to be treated with reasonable care. Withholding medication, or simply not giving a resident their medication, can be abuse or neglect.

Caregivers may refuse to give medication to purposefully harm a resident. Caregivers may use medication to control resident behavior. Alternatively, they may simply lack the disposition to give the resident the drugs they need in the appropriate manner. Whether the result of abuse or neglect, a resident may be harmed by a nursing home not giving them their medication.

Contact a Greenville Attorney for Nursing Home Medication Errors

If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home medication errors, including a lack of providing medication, you have important legal rights. You may have a claim for compensation.

Lawyer Bobby Jones assists people who are harmed while living in a residential care facility. We invite you to contact Bobby Jones Law to discuss your situation and how we may help. Call us today.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
  • Named among Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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