Improper Medication Lawsuits in California Nursing Homes
Many residents of nursing homes and other healthcare facilities are on multiple medications. If your loved one suffers from a chronic health condition or an acute medical problem, then a medication that is properly prescribed and administered could save her life.
However, if there is a medication error—the effects can be dangerous or even fatal. According to a recent study from Johns Hopkins:
- More than a quarter of a million people die every year in the United States due to medication mistakes.
- Ten percent of all deaths in the United States are due to medication errors.
- Medication errors are the third highest cause of death in the United States.
Despite these frightening statistics, researchers believe that medication errors are underreported in the United States.
Your loved one could be at risk of suffering or may have already suffered a catastrophic injury due to a medication error. No one—regardless of their age or medical condition—deserves to suffer because of a medication error. Nursing homes and other medical care facilities have a legal responsibility to care for residents and provide the right medication for residents. If this does not happen, then your loved one may have the right to make a legal recovery.
What Is a Medication Error?
A dangerous medication error can occur at any time from when the drug is initially prescribed until it is consumed. For example, a medication error may occur if:
- The wrong medication is prescribed. Doctors have a duty to prescribe the right medication based on the patient’s medical condition, allergies, other medications, and the potential side effects of a specific drug.
- The wrong dose of the right medication is prescribed. If the wrong dose of a drug is prescribed or administered, then the resident may receive an overdose or may not get enough of the necessary drug to treat her condition.
- The wrong medication is given to the resident. This can be dangerous for two reasons. First, the resident is not receiving the medication that she needs to treat her medical condition. Second, the resident is receiving a medication that she does not need and that could be potentially harmful. Consider, for example, what could happen if a person took medication for diabetes or high blood pressure when she did not have either condition.
- The patient never receives the prescribed medication. Some medications must be given consistently in order to be effective.
- The medication is given to the patient at the wrong time. Some medications must be given at consistent times or within a certain amount of time before or after eating in order to be effective.
- The medication is otherwise administered incorrectly. This includes giving the medication to the resident in the wrong form. For example, the patient may not be able to swallow pills and, therefore, leaving the medication on her tray in pill form would be ineffective and potentially dangerous.
- There is an adverse or allergic reaction to the medication. Doctors should inquire about potential allergies and be aware of how the medication will react with other medications taken by the patient. Nurses and others who administer medications and care for residents should be aware of any potential signs of allergy or adverse reaction and get prompt medical help if such a reaction should develop.
Any of these mistakes can be catastrophic.
How Do Medication Errors Happen?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some of the common reasons for medication errors include:
- Poor communication. Any communication between the doctor, pharmacy, and staff administering medication could result in a dangerous drug error.
- Improper documentation. When medication is administered, the following things should be documented: the time of administration, the method of administration, the medication name, and the dose. The failure to document these facts can result in another staff member thinking that the medication was not provided and giving the patient another dose.
- Ambiguity in medication names and administration directions. This can lead to confusion on the part of the pharmacist or the person administering the medication.
- Lack of training. Nursing home staff must be appropriately trained in how to administer medication, in how to avoid medication errors, and in what to do if a medication error occurs.
- Insufficient staffing. Without sufficient staffing, the staff members that are present may be unable to get every resident the right medication at the right time. Some medications may be delayed or a mistake may be made.
- Similar labeling or packaging of medications. This can result in confusion and mistakes.
- Abuse. Some staff members may deliberately provide medication to residents in order to subdue them or restrain them.
Any of these things can result in a medication error that causes a serious or fatal injury.
What Injuries Do Medication Errors Cause?
The failure to receive necessary medication or the administration of the wrong medication can result in dangerous medical complications, including:
- Heart attacks
- The progression of an infection
In some cases, a medication error can result in death.
What Is a Medication Error Injury Case Worth?
The harm that has been done by a medication error may be irreversible. It is hard to imagine what can make it better. However, legal damages may be available to compensate your loved one or her survivors for the effects of the medication error. This may include all costs associated with the abuse or neglect including past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
If your loved one has died as a result of a medication error then funeral costs and your loss of love, affection, and guidance may also be part of the potential damage award.
How Can My Loved One Get the Fair Recovery She Deserves After a Medication Error?
Federal regulations require that nursing homes keep medication errors under five percent and ensure that all residents are free of significant medical errors that cause them discomfort or that put their health or safety at risk. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and residents of nursing homes and other healthcare facilities are at risk of injury.
If it is your loved one who has been hurt or killed by a medication error then what happens next may be up to you. You can find the right lawyer to help your loved one get the recovery that she deserves. The right lawyer will not be afraid to go to trial if necessary to protect your loved one’s rights, and the right lawyer will get to know your loved one so that her interests and recovery are always guiding every legal decision that is made.
Our experienced legal team will work hard to settle your loved one’s case. We will negotiate with the insurance company by presenting strong evidence and convincing arguments. If the insurance company is unwilling to provide a fair settlement for the neglect or abuse that your loved one has suffered, then we will go to court to get your loved one fair compensation for her injuries.
We want what you want; we want your loved one to have all of the information that she needs to make an informed decision about what to do after a medication error in a nursing home or healthcare facility. We want the nursing home or healthcare facility to be held accountable.
We want to help. Please contact our Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer team today via this website or by phone, so we can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with you to discuss your loved one’s rights and how best to protect her recovery.