Medication Errors in Knoxville Nursing Homes
Moving a relative or loved one into a Knox County nursing home is a stressful time for many families. Nursing homes provide advanced care for people who have complicated medical conditions or are recovering from an illness or surgery. Nurses are on hand around the clock to care for patients, including monitoring their health and providing medication management.
Unfortunately, there are too many medication errors in Knoxville nursing homes, such as under-medicating, over-medicating, or mixing medications that result in painful side effects. Some patients can experience severe harm from medication errors or be needlessly in pain. If your loved one has been a victim of medication errors in their Knoxville nursing home, you have options. A nursing home lawyer like James Higgins can help.Example of Nursing Home Medication Mismanagement
A medical error made by a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center resulted in the death of a 75-year-old patient. Instead of administering a sedative before a brain exam, the nurse instead accidentally administered a paralyzing medication, which left the woman brain dead. After a few days, the family made the difficult decision to take her off life support.
She claimed that hospital procedures allowed nurses to override medication cabinet safety prompts, which was the reason for her mistake. The nurse searched for the wrong medication and overrode the safety prompts intended to be a check and balance on administering proper medicines. She got the wrong medication and missed the warning label on the bottle that read “Paralyzing Agent.”
This type of protocol sets up circumstances where nurses bypass measures put in place to protect patients, making it more likely that a nurse in a rush or careless in general can easily grab the wrong medication.How Do Medication Errors Happen in Knox County Nursing Homes?
The most common reasons for medication mistakes are the misdiagnosis of the patient, confusion about administering the medication, understaffing in the nursing home properly, and incorrect transcriptions of the dosage on the drug.
Medication mismanagement falls into three different categories:
- Knowledge-based errors happen when the staff member doesn’t have enough information about eh medication they're dispensing, including lack of knowledge about the patient's medical history, diet, allergies, or other prescriptions they're taking. Lack of good record-keeping often makes this scenario more likely
- Rule-based errors happen when nursing home employees don’t follow protocols, both intentionally and unintentionally. Lack of training, confusion about nursing home rules, or a nurse unfamiliar with the instructions on medication are common examples
- Action-based errors happen when a nurse or care worker makes a mistake, even if they know the rules. For example, the nurse may pick up the wrong bottle off the shelf, misread the label, or write down the wrong dosage on a chart
Medication errors or mismanagement are grounds for a nursing home malpractice lawsuit. There are a few different kinds of medication malpractice:
- Diversion of medication, which is a term that refers to a staff member stealing medication from patients for their personal use or to sell to others
- Ignoring an order, which is when a nursing home employee ignores the instructions of the facility’s administration and either change the order, discontinue administering the medication, or add medications that aren't ordered
- Medication borrowing, which can occur if the staff is busy during the med pass (the time that medications are distributed to residents). Some medications may be missing, and instead of retrieving the correct ones, the staff member just borrows one resident’s medications and gives them to another
- Improper medication management, which happens when the nursing home doesn't have the right medicines on hand, which means that the resident won’t receive what they need
If a patient doesn’t receive the proper medication, it can quickly aggravate their conditions, leaving them vulnerable to complications including hospitalization, stroke, heart attack, or even death. Some medicines aren’t meant to be taken together and can have severe side effects. Other times, borrowing medications or switching them out can bring on an allergic reaction in the patient.Have You Experienced Medical Negligence in Knoxville?
If you or someone you love has been injured or died due to medication errors in a Knox County nursing home, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice suit. The Higgins Firm can help you determine if your loved one was affected by a medication error and help you and your family get the justice you deserve. You may be entitled to damages to cover the cost of hospitalization or for pain and suffering your loved one experienced. Our law firm handles nursing home malpractice cases in Knox County and the greater Knoxville area. Contact us today for a FREE personalized consultation about your case.