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What Medication Errors Can Occur in Indiana Nursing Homes?


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Nursing homes in Indiana struggle with lack of staffing, training, and proper organizational structure. These issues can manifest in harm to the residents, including in errors involving the administration of medications.

Common examples of medication errors in Indiana nursing homes include use of the wrong medication or dosage and the administering of medications that were not prescribed. Studies suggest that these issues are often a result of the nursing home’s poor management.

To learn more about your right to pursue monetary recovery after being harmed by a medication error at a nursing home, call Wruck Paupore’s Indiana nursing home abuse lawyers at (219) 322-1166 right now.

Common Types of Medication Errors in Indiana Nursing Homes

Any time negligence is involved in the administering of medication in nursing homes, serious consequences may follow. Below are just a few examples of situations that may arise in nursing homes in Indiana involving medication errors.

Using the Wrong Medication

Perhaps the most obvious form of medication error in nursing homes would be where nursing home staff provide the wrong medication for the patient. This is more common than you might think, as nursing home residents often require many types of medication. Unfortunately, many nursing homes in Indiana are understaffed or lack the medical sophistication of a hospital and might mix up which resident is to receive which medication.

Using the Wrong Dose of a Medication

Depending on the type of medication, using the wrong dose may be just as harmful to the resident as using the wrong medication. Just because a resident is ailing more from their condition does not mean that more medication will solve the problem. Conversely, it may not be acceptable to provide less medication to a patient who is complaining about their symptoms less. Nursing home administrators and staff that fail to institute diligent record-keeping measures for their residents’ medical needs will incur liability for the consequences of over or under-medicating.

Administering Medications that Were Not Prescribed

Prescribing doctors are responsible for taking significant care in prescribing any medication to a patient. This is particularly true in the case of elderly patients, who are more likely to deal with the side effects of certain medications and are also more likely to be taking multiple medications at once. A nursing home that takes it upon itself to administer medication that was not prescribed runs the risk of that medication causing adverse effects or interacting poorly with the medication that the resident is already taking.

New Study Explains Why Medication Errors Occur in Indiana Nursing Homes

According to a study published in 2021, the number of errors in medication management in nursing homes has been on the rise. According to the study, mistakes in medication management resulted primarily from human error, working condition limitations, and technical deficiencies. These stem from organizational factors, which often fall at the feet of nursing home administrators.

Heavy Reliance on Non-Licensed Staff

According to information gathered by the study, a heavy load of drug administering responsibilities fall on non-licensed staff members at nursing homes, as opposed to first-line registered nurses (FRNs) or registered nurses (RNs). In general, the study found that FRNs and RNs had little to no oversight over non-licensed staff at their facilities, leading to the non-licensed staff being primarily responsible for assessing risks when administering medications. This assumes that the non-licensed staff members have a level of education and experience that they are not required to have in their role.

Lack of Professionalism

Informants to the study also emphasized a lack of professionalism as a key factor in medication errors. Researchers found that non-licensed staff sometimes did not control dosages on drug lists and chose the wrong drug from pill organizers. On occasion, tablets would disappear and would later turn up in the caretaker’s room. These errors occurred even though staff members are supposed to receive training on to safely handing over drugs and the importance of a written sign that shows that the drugs were administered.

Informants confirmed that not controlling the number of tablets against the prescription was the most common fault. An already-administered drug could be offered to the residents when no controls were made. Changes in prescriptions were not noted, and previous prescriptions were taken for granted. The risk was even greater if the staff member relied on their own memory or when colleagues were trusted with newly prescribed drugs without any supervision.

In addition, the RNs surveyed also admitted that they made mistakes. They sometimes forgot to write down new drugs on the signing list or else wrote it carelessly so that it was difficult to interpret.

Poor Record-Keeping and Reporting

The informants agreed that an under-reporting of incidents related to medication management could happen. When explaining their views, the FRNs indicated that the non-licensed staff members did not report events to the RNs due to lack of time, and that they did not want to write reports during their spare time. Events that occurred near the end of a work shift were most at risk of not being reported. RNs and non-licensed staff informed about how incidents were not reported when staff forgot to sign the prescription cards or when prescription times were delayed.

Working Conditions

Non-licensed staff with delegation were sometimes prevented from giving the drug at certain times, for example, if an incident recently had occurred or they were interrupted in the task. This led to distraction and, for example, forgetfulness if they had handed over the drug or not, counted the tablets, or signed the prescription cards. The non-licensed staff also expressed stress and concern because they explained that the time schedule for performing delegated tasks was too short. Occasionally, errors were discovered, and the caretaker got their medication, but later than prescribed. This may result in doses being given too closely in time, and as a result, the recipient’s drug concentration could be too high.

Wruck Paupore Can Help You Get Justice for Nursing Home Negligence in Indiana

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have been affected by medication errors in a nursing home, reach out to the Indianapolis nursing home abuse attorneys at Wruck Paupore today for a free initial case evaluation. Call (219) 322-1166 to learn more.

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