Aging Americans—those over the age of 75—typically take about 11 different drugs during a year, according to AARP. Unfortunately, elderly individuals often mix-up their prescription drugs because they have so many medications to keep track of. Because families cannot always be with their elderly loved ones to manage their medications, they often turn to nursing homes for round-the-clock care.
Families trust that nursing homes will provide their loved ones with the proper care and will manage the medications properly—making sure their elderly loved ones take the right drug at the right time. In fact, managing patient medications should be a top priority in nursing homes. However, nursing homes that are not run well are known to overdose patients and give residents the wrong medications.
Why Are Residents of Nursing Homes Given the Wrong Medication?
There are many reasons why residents receive the wrong medications or are overmedicated while at nursing homes, including:
- Understaffed – Nursing home workers who are overworked make mistakes, especially when it comes to the sheer amount of medications they deal with daily. When a nursing home is understaffed, the workers could give one patient another resident’s medication by mistake. When this happens, residents are not being treated for their current medical condition, and they could suffer the side effects of receiving another drug—a drug not intended for them.
- Convenience – Whether the nursing home is understaffed or workers just don’t want to deal with certain residents, some patients are purposely given a medication they weren’t prescribed or too much of it to subdue them. This way, the residents are too groggy and aren’t asking the workers for assistance.
Sadly, there are many nursing homes and staff members who don’t put the residents’ health and happiness first. According to a 2010 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services study, 40 percent of nursing home patients were receiving antipsychotic drugs daily—even though they had not been diagnosed with psychosis. The reason? This medication makes nursing home patients more lethargic, and nursing home workers didn’t want to be bothered. This way, staff members didn’t have to attend to every patient’s request for assistance, for example: getting out of bed, going to the restroom, or filling their water cups.
Sadly, many elderly individuals who are overmedicated or receive the wrong medication suffer—reducing their quality of life. And some suffer life-threatening risks as a result—such as liver failure, heart disease, serious injuries and other harmful side effects. If your loved one is a victim of receiving the wrong medication or too much of a medication in a nursing home, please contact the medication error attorneys at Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 for a free initial consultation and free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.