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Report: Medication Errors Top Concern at Florida Nursing Homes

An elderly resident at a Florida nursing home received double his daily medication for a full year before anyone discovered the mistake. This error is egregious in itself, but the greater problem is it’s not an isolated incident throughout the state – and it puts vulnerable patients at grave risk of serious harm.

A recent report by the Daytona News-Journal indicated the same nursing home that wrongly doubled the patient’s prescription had been cited twice before for previous medication errors – including for a time accidentally switching two patient’s pills. In the last three years, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services revealed nearly 45 percent of nursing homes in Florida have been cited for deficiencies that were either directly or indirectly related to medication mistakes.

Brian Lee, director of consumer watchdog group Families for Better Care, said the problem is far too common, and both patients and families have a right to accountability in these matters.

Our Palm Beach County nursing home abuse lawyers know such incidents aren’t always disclosed to family members, let alone reported to authorities. It’s critical for loved ones to be vigilant and speak up if they fear a mistake has been made.

The aforementioned nursing home was one of eight in the state cited over the last three years for medication errors deemed serious and harmful to patients. It was also the same nursing home that notoriously blocked police investigator access to potential witnesses in an alleged sexual assault involving a patient at the facility earlier this year.

With regard to the medication error, even after the pharmacist alerted the nursing home of the double-dose discrepancy, the mistake wasn’t corrected for a full two months. The center was later fined $22,000 for the mistake. But soon after, the center was again cited for giving the wrong medication to a patient.

While not all medication mistakes harmed patients, that potential is always there. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, one in every three nursing home patient suffers some type of medication error, acquired infection or other harm.

Part of the issues is with regard to the way these facilities maintain key records. While most hospitals and other health care providers keep these records digitally – which can often help to catch and prevent serious medication mistakes – most nursing homes do not, according to the Florida Health Care Association. In a hospital setting, digital systems canĀ  help flag when there are potential prescription mistakes or when drug interactions may prove dangerous. Nursing homes don’t have the same benefit when they keep paper files. The agency did say nursing homes do a good job of reporting errors when they do occur, but but conceded the majority of elder care facilities are “not part of the 21st century in that regard.”

While most hospitals and doctors offices have received federal funding in recent years to help them update their systems, nursing homes thus far have not been eligible. Of course, most could have afforded it, considering this is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is growing exponentially each year.

Then again, these errors could largely be mitigated or prevented entirely if nursing homes had sufficient staff with adequate training. Far too often, this is not the case.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Daytona nursing home highlights a problem in medicine – medication errors, July 26,2014, By Skyler Swisher, Daytona Beach News-Journal

More Blog Entries:

Mattox v. Life Centers of America – Nursing Home Falls a Sign of Neglect, Dec. 3, 2014, Palm Beach County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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