Medication errors, including giving residents the wrong drugs, are all too common in skilled nursing facilities throughout Nevada. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a study of adverse drug events in nursing homes found the rate was almost 10 events for every 100 resident-months. Those who reside in long-term care nursing facilities often require round-the-clock care. While people put their trust in nursing home staff to provide this care for their loved ones, they may make mistakes while carrying out residents’ treatment plans which can have serious medical consequences.

Common Medication Errors in Long-Term Care Facilities

There are several other common medication errors that occur in nursing homes. In addition to giving residents the wrong form or strength, or the wrong medicine entirely, the mistakes commonly made in nursing facilities include:

  • Giving expired drugs
  • Overdosing or underdosing
  • Using incorrect administration techniques
  • Administering medications at the wrong time

Neglecting to monitor residents after administering medications, as well as incorrectly documenting medication administrations are also considered drug errors in nursing homes.

Effects of Drug Administration Errors

Giving patients the wrong medications and other drug administration errors can result in serious adverse effects for residents. People may experience harmful side effects, develop other ailments, or the conditions for which they are getting treatment may worsen or otherwise deteriorate due to taking the wrong medicine. In some cases, medication errors may lead to organ failure or even death.

Causes of Nursing Home Medication Mistakes

Drug administration errors in skilled nursing facilities can occur for any number of reasons, many of which are preventable. Nursing facilities are often short-staffed, which can cause workers to feel rushed when addressing residents’ needs, resulting in them not taking the time they need and making medication administration mistakes. Other residents or staff members, as well as unexpected events, may also occur when staff is administering medications and result in serious errors. In some cases, nursing home staff may intentionally give patients the wrong medicine to improperly sedate them or to attempt to steal or illegally reallocate their drugs.

Nursing home residents often have complex medication regimens which involve multiple medical providers and transitions between care facilities. A lack of communication between the involved health care professionals, care providers, and facilities can increase the risk of residents getting the wrong medications or having them administered incorrectly.