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Family Sues for Nursing Home Missed Medication Causing Wrongful Death

Medication errors occur far too frequently in a range of medical settings and nursing homes aren’t immune. A medication error can be any preventable event that results in inappropriate medication use or harm to patient while it’s being prescribed or administered to patient under a professional’s care.

Nursing home medication errors frequently have to do with patients receiving the wrong medication, inappropriate prescriptions (particularly of anti-psychotic medications), patients not receiving the proper dose of medications or medication doses being missed entirely.

Some of the underlying causes, as underlying by Michigan University Hospitals, includes problems with verbal orders, poor handwriting, improper selection of drugs, missed medications, incorrect scheduling, look-alike or sound-alike drugs, drug interactions, stressful work environment and a lack of computer support.

As our nursing home injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can explain though, none of this is an excuse for medication errors, though they can help facilities target problem areas. It will not be an adequate defense in litigation due to resulting harm.

Recently in Illinois, a circuit court judge upheld a previous ruling to award $4.1 million to the family of an 89-year-old woman who died of a stroke while recovering from a hip fracture because, her family says, she wasn’t given blood-thinning medication, which also specifically helps to prevent strokes. That compensation is a record total under the state’s nursing home care act. The nursing home intends to appeal.

Evidence produced by the family, according to The Chicago Tribune, shows the decedent, who was 85 in 2011, was transferred from the hospital to defendant’s facility in 2011 after suffering a hip fracture. Primarily, she needed physical therapy so she could become mobile again, but doctors also prescribed a number of medications – including Coumadin, the blood-thinner. But records show nursing home staff failed to give her that medication for a full two weeks during her stay. Soon thereafter, she suffered a stroke. Although she did not die until four years later, her family said the stroke undoubtedly contributed to her wrongful death, and substantially reduced her quality of life, stripping her of the ability to walk and talk.

In addition to the $4.1 million damage award, defendants have been ordered to pay $1.3 million in attorney’s fees.

This is just one example of how a medication error can have devastating and lasting consequences. Unfortunately, nursing home patients are especially at risk for drug-related injuries, as noted by analysis from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. To start, nursing home residents are far more likely than non-residents to have numerous chronic medical conditions, to be functionally impaired, lack family caregivers and economic resources, to have cognitive deficits and be taking lots of different medications.

Researchers in two large academic studies concluded the rate of “adverse drug events” (medication errors) in nursing homes was almost 10 per 100 full-time resident months – with about 40 percent of those deemed preventable. Those found to be at especially high risk were those taking anticoagulants (like Coumadin and warfarin – something almost 10 percent of nursing home patients take), diuretics, antipsychotic agents and antiepileptic medications.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Bartlett nursing home to appeal $5.6 million award in stroke case, March 27, 2018, By Rafael Guerrero, The Chicago Tribune

More Blog Entries:

Study Finds “Widespread” Anti-Psychotic Drug Abuse in Nursing Homes, April 30, 2018, Nursing Home Medication Error Attorney Blog

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