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The troubling truth about medication errors in nursing homes

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Elder Abuse

On average, senior adults take at least four medications per month, and each one has a specific function, dose and time of day for administration. Following a prescription exactly is critical, as a slight change can have harmful health consequences.

As someone with a loved one residing in a nursing home, you rely on the facility’s staff for their care. Unfortunately, many nursing homes across the country are breeding grounds for various forms of elder abuse, including medication errors.

The painful reality of nursing home abuse

Nursing homes cater to the most vulnerable demographic: older adults who can no longer care for themselves. As such, these facilities are expected to provide the highest standard of care to residents. Despite this, reports continue to reveal the extent of elder abuse.

Elder abuse encompasses both negligent and intentional actions that cause serious harm or risk to an older adult. This includes medication errors, whether deliberate or through neglect.

Consequences of medication error for older adults

Systemic problems such as understaffing and a lack of training are the usual culprits for elder abuse in nursing homes. Staff members who are overworked or lack proper training may make mistakes or act recklessly out of frustration.

Administering the incorrect prescription, however, can put residents at risk of harmful interactions and life-threatening side effects. Moreover, their health conditions may worsen as a result of inadequate treatment.

What you can do

It can be difficult to recognize signs of medication abuse, especially since you may not always visit your loved one. However, a drastic change in appearance or behavior is usually a red flag. On your visit, look out for the following:

  • Unexplained bruises
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Anxiety around certain staff members
  • Refusal to eat
  • Disorientation
  • Forgetfulness

If you suspect something is wrong, address your concerns with the facility and insist on changes. However, if your loved one’s condition worsens or they appear injured, you may need to remove them from the situation and consider taking legal action. An experienced attorney can help you understand what steps you can take next.