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How Do Medication Errors Occur in Nursing Homes?

Author: Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP

How Medication Errors in Nursing Can Compromise Patient Safety

How Do Medication Errors Occur in Nursing Homes?Medication errors in nursing homes are medical errors, and they are common enough that the medical field has set an error rate.

According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide website, nursing home facilities must have medication error rates that are below five percent.

Medical Error Definition: What Is a Medication Error?

Medication errors are inaccuracies made during medication preparation or administration. Errors either fail to follow a doctor’s order, pharmaceutical manufacturing instructions or the medical field’s accepted standards for the particular medicine’s use.

Typically, a nurse or nurse staff member will administer medication through a med pass, which means pushing a cart from resident to resident to dispense the medication. Depending on the states requirements, an unlicensed nursing staff member may be able to dispense medication under a nurse’s general supervision. However, some states have stricter regulations, and nurses must directly dispense the medication.

What Are Some Medication Error Examples?

The following examples are the ways that administering medication can result in error:

  • Slicing or crushing medication that should not be divided or crushed. Capsules, tablets or other medications often have “do not crush” instructions.
  • Failing to provide adequate fluid with medications. Often medicines come with instructions that patients should take it with a required amount of fluid. Not drinking enough fluid can sometimes harm the patient.
  • Failing to take sufficient food or antacids. Some medicines must be taken with food. Others require patients to take an antacid before taking the medicine. Proper fluids, food and antacids instructions should be followed.
  • Failure to shake or mix the medication. When a staff member doesn’t shake or mix the medicine, the patient may be at risk for receiving too much or too little of the medication. For example, insulin must be mixed without air bubbles prior to administering it.
  • Not following standard protocols for medications uses with ENFs (enteral nutritional formulas). The elderly often drink an ENF to supplement nutrition or when they are unable to eat very well. Specific guidelines and protocols exist for administering medication with ENFs. Patients may experience harm when staff members fail to follow proper guidelines.

Of course, more obvious medication errors would involve dispensing the wrong medication, giving the wrong dosage or failing to administer the medication to the patient at all.

If your loved one was harmed due to a medication error, we hope this information helps you to recognize it and get in touch with us.

Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP has extensive experience handling forms of medical malpractice such as medication errors in nursing homes. By discussing your situation in a free consultation, you can find out about the prospects of pursuing legal action.

Medical Malpraactice Attorneys

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Author: Sackstein Sackstein & Lee.LLP

Medical Malpraactice AttorneysMedical malpractice occurs when there is a failure to follow generally accepted medical practices, which results in harming a patient. Consequently, patients may experience injury, illness and in the most severe cases, death. However, not every injury that a patient suffers during medical treatment is caused by medical malpractice. An experienced attorney can evaluate the circumstances under which injury occurred and determine whether grounds exist for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Proving that a practitioner deviated from standard practice typically requires an investigation and testimony by a medical expert or experts.

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we have the resources to consult with and retain medical experts who can testify to support the facts underlying a medical malpractice claim. Without an experienced lawyer to evaluate your suspicions, you probably would not know, or at least you would not be certain whether medical malpractice had occurred. In some cases, malpractice is blatant, but in other cases, it may be subtle and more difficult to prove.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

Some types of medical malpractice are more common than others. We represent clients in malpractice cases that are caused by the following:

  • Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia errors can result from the failure to monitor drug reactions and oxygen levels or from incorrect dosages or the failure to assess using a particular anesthesia based on a patient’s known allergies.
  • Failure to monitor. Before and after surgeries and other medical treatments, physicians and nurses must monitor vital signs, ensure proper hydration and nutrition and take other precautions for patients.
  • Hypoxia and asphyxia injuries. Failing to properly monitor the fetus can lead to low oxygen levels and result in hypoxia or asphyxia, which can have serious repercussions.
  • Delivery room errors. Failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner, improper use of forceps and other errors during delivery can harm babies during childbirth.
  • Bedsores due to nursing home negligence. If untreated, bedsores can lead to serious infection. However, good hygiene and moving patients regularly can usually prevent bedsores.
  • Medication errors. Incorrect dosages, mixing up medicines with similar names or prescribing the wrong medication for a patient are a few examples of medication errors.
  • Surgical errors. Operating on the wrong patient, the wrong body part or leaving a medical instrument inside the body are surgical errors that can adversely affect patients.
  • Medical errors due to failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing cancer, heart disease or other severe illnesses can lead to worsened conditions or fatality.
  • Birth injuries. Newborn babies can suffer from nerve damage, brain damage and other serious injuries when doctors fail to follow proper medical standards during childbirth.
  • RSD/CRPS. Regional Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSC) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a disorder that causes pain, swelling and limited motion. In some cases, it can result from medical negligence.
  • Hospital errors. Errors that occur during hospitalization sometimes include surgical errors, emergency room errors, a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we can investigate medical malpractice claims involving a wide scope of medical practitioners: general practitioners, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiology technicians and other types of medical professionals in specialized fields.

Were You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

You can find out by sitting down with one of our attorneys. Discuss the details of your medical injury in a free consultation and explain why you suspect malpractice was involved. Handling medical malpractice cases requires extensive skills and access to medical experts. At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience and the necessary resources. Your case matters to us. Find out how we can help.

Call us toll free at 888.519.6400, or contact us in Garden City at 516.248.2234, or in Flushing-Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx at 718.539.3100. You can also fill in our contact form, and we will get in touch with you.


We know you take your injury seriously, and so do we.

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