It can be a heart-wrenching decision to place loved ones in nursing homes when they are no longer able to independently care for themselves, but individuals do have the reasonable expectation that nursing home workers will take the necessary steps to keep their loved ones safe while under their care. The unfortunate and tragic truth, however, is that nursing home neglect happens every day. In many cases, nursing home medication errors that lead to injury or even death occur and can leave surviving relatives struggling to find answers.
• Government sends memo regarding Coumadin/warfarin medication errors
• Asks state health departments to keep eye out for nursing home neglect/ drug errors related to these medications
• 165 nursing home residents injured or killed by Coumadin/warfarin errors between 2011 and 2014
The federal government takes investigating these types of deaths seriously, according to recent reports. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) forwarded a memo to state health departments requesting that they keep an eye out for errors on the part of nursing home personnel when it comes to managing the blood thinner Coumadin. This lifesaving but also potentially dangerous drug is also known under its generic version, warfarin.
165 residents of nursing homes suffered injuries requiring hospitalization or even died, from 2011 to 2014 because of Coumadin or warfarin.
Government inspection records also apparently show that some of those cases were because too much of the drug was given, while other cases were traced to too little of the drug being administered. Internal bleeding can occur when too much of the drug is received; too little of the drug can result in blood clots or strokes.
The American Journal of Medicine produced a study in 2007 that suggested an estimated 34,000 serious, life-threatening, or fatal nursing home resident events take place due to Coumadin or warfarin each year. This and other peer-reviewed studies indicate that the drug can be quite dangerous unless it is appropriately—and closely—monitored. Even though the Department of Health and Human Services has listed Coumadin and other anticoagulants as being frequently involved in what it termed as “adverse drug events,” it seems like other types of drug errors or misuse tend to draw more media attention. This includes the apparent use of antipsychotic medications, which can result in elderly residents falling after going into stupor-like states.
Understaffing in a Nursing Home Facility
The acceptable percentage of errors in the daily dispensing of medications to residents under Medicare and Medicaid regulations is 5%. An excessive number of errors lead to the facility being cited and required to develop and develop a plan to correct these issues.
Federal guidelines mandate that any nursing home participating in Medicare must employ “sufficient nursing staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident.”
Required Record Keeping in Nursing Home Facilities
Federal law requires all nursing homes which receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to follow certain standards in care and recordkeeping. Families may not realize this, but they have the right to request — and receive — a copy of a patient’s records within 24 hours after requesting it from the nursing home facility. Included in these types of records are medication and treatment administration records, which represent monthly charts that are maintained by the licensed nurses on staff at the nursing facility. These records detail not only the medications and care that physician orders for the resident, but also how those medications and care were actually carried out.
These records could become critical in proving that nursing home abuse or neglect has taken place due to medication errors. We take great pride in representing victims of medication errors or their surviving family members as they seek justice. Please call us, free of charge, at 1-888-586-7041 to discuss the facts of your case. We can schedule a free initial consultation to help you learn what your options for seeking financial restitution may be. No family should have to wonder how or why their loved ones have been injured or lost their lives. We can help you seek the answers you deserve.
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