That Medication Mistake Can Be Deadly!
By Zachary Mushkatel on October 8, 2014
Our elderly parents are often in a condition that we just cannot manage at home. Cases of dementia, serious illnesses, physical incapacitation and other medical or mental problems lead us to the decision to place our loved one in a nursing home for professional care and treatment. We choose a nursing home that we expect to provide the level of care and medical treatment our loved one needs, including nutrition, exercise, medical care and oversight, as well as various types of social interaction, based upon the condition and needs of the person.
Unfortunately, one common form of elder abuse that can arise in a nursing home involves a medication mistake. A failure to administer the correct amount or type of a medication can lead to serious illness, the need for hospitalization, a dangerous medical condition or death.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect is when a nursing facility fails to provide proper medical care, as well as physical and emotional support and attention. When the neglect extends to a failure to provide adequate medical care, the situation has become extremely serious. Our elderly relatives are often already in frail health and may not be able to communicate with us.
Some medication errors are purely accidental, but cases have been documented in which nursing home residents are over-medicated in an effort to “keep them quiet.” Elderly persons who are suffering from dementia can be difficult to manage – but that is why they are placed under the care of professionals.
Any medication that is administered must be at a level as prescribed by a qualified medical professional, not a random decision by a nurse or other staff member. The wrong medication, wrong dosage, or over-medication of your loved one could lead to disaster.
The elderly are actually at risk when the nursing home staff has been negligent in their duties, and has failed to administer the right medication at the correct dosage. Many nursing homes hire staff that may be unqualified, untrained or even abusive. More than one-half of nursing home abuse cases involve neglect, which takes many forms. The most common signs of neglect include malnutrition, poor hygiene, bedsores and dehydration, but medication errors are unfortunately, not uncommon.
Hospitalization after a Medication Error
The consequences of a medication error could involve the need for your loved one to be hospitalized for a serious condition, including one of the following:
- Low blood sugar
- Visual hallucinations
- Labored breathing
- Untreated and dangerous infections
- Medical conditions that get worse due to a failure to administer medications per a doctor’s orders
- Death from medication errors (too much, too little, wrong medication, no medication)
If your loved one has suddenly taken a sudden turn for the worse, appears drugged and groggy every time you visit, or you are aware a medication mistake was made, it is important that the nursing home is held accountable for what occurred. Current federal regulations require that a nursing home facility has no higher than a 5% rate of medication errors, and that all residents are free from the dangers of significant medication errors.
Any medication that is administered that is not in accordance with doctor’s orders, the manufacturer’s specifications or the accepted professional standards for the state of Arizona, or established by national organizations, licensing authorities and boards, as well as others practicing in the profession of geriatric medicine could be a case of neglect.
The basic fact is that negligence has taken place if a nursing home has failed to provide the accepted standard of medical care for their residents with regard to the administration of medications.
Was your loved one injured by a medication error?
If your loved one has suffered from a medication error, has been hospitalized or died, it is important that you are proactive and seek legal counsel.
At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our Phoenix elder neglect attorney is a powerful advocate for the elderly and their families in cases of neglect and abuse, including those involving medication errors. Our elderly relatives have lived long and productive lives. They deserve to be cared for with professional skill, compassion and care.
If you have suffered a tragedy after a medication error, connect with our firm so we can help you seek justice and full compensation. Your actions now could save others in the facility from suffering the same fate.
- Helpguide.org, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
- NBC Chicago: http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Nursing-Home-Medication-Errors-Leading-to-Hospitalizations-243618471.html
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.