Medication Mix-ups In Nursing Homes Are Deadly

Mix up With Medication Can KillWhen Roy Rach entered into St. Joseph’s Caretel Inn upon leaving the hospital after receiving treatment for an abnormal heartbeat, he was only supposed to be there for a few days to recover. According to his daughter, he went in alert and happy. When he left the facility, he was on a stretcher, in a diabetic coma. According to state records, Rach’s diabetes went untreated while in St. Joseph’s Caretel Inn.

Unfortunately for his family and for Rach himself, he never recovered from the coma. Just days after Thanksgiving, he passed away. His daughter states that while the hospital may have saved his life, it was his nursing home that ended it.

Not a unique situation

According to the attorney who is planning to file a lawsuit against the company on behalf of Rach’s family, Rach had a 116-glucose level when he entered into the facility. That is a normal level. However, only five days later, his glucose levels went up almost 600 percent. According to the filing attorney, the patient’s diabetes went untreated until his fifth day at Caretel. This despite the fact that records indicate that staff members knew Rach was diabetic. Unfortunately, St. Joseph’s Caretel Inn is just one of many facilities that provide inadequate or incorrect medication. You can find a list of Michigan facilities that were cited for significant medication errors in the last three years here. Remember that this list only represents a single state.

More common than we realize

When it comes to medical mistakes, medication errors are amongst the most common type. Especially for nursing home patients who are often frail and rely on these medications, medication errors can be especially harmful. As the number of prescription medications that a resident takes increases, so does the potential for error. According to an AMDA report, (a professional association of medical professionals who practice in long-term care settings) approximately half of adverse events are caused by medication errors, despite only a small number of medication errors resulting in adverse events.

Why do these mistakes happen?

Within these nursing home facilities, there is an entire team responsible for prescription management. While a doctor is going to prescribe the medication, assistants, nurses, and others will play some role in administering the medication to the patient. As the number of people involved in the process increases, so does the potential for a mistake. According to the aforementioned ADMA report, the prescription errors are because of:

  • 9 percent are due to wrong choice of medication
  • 22 percent are due to failure to consider drug interactions
  • 63 percent are due to wrong dose

It is also possible that medications are because the caregiver gives the patient medication meant for someone else or distributes it during the wrong time of the day.

Despite the fact that human errors might occur, they are unacceptable when it comes to medication errors. If staff members feel rushed to distribute medication it is up to the nursing home to provide more staff members so the pressure at work is reduced. If you fear that you or someone you care about is receiving the wrong medication, it is important to speak out. Medication mistakes may not be evident right away. Something as simple as distributing the medication at the wrong time of the day may reduce their efficiency, something that might not be evident until much later.