Featured News 2018 Dangerous Pharmaceutical Mistakes Revealed by Nursing Homes

Dangerous Pharmaceutical Mistakes Revealed by Nursing Homes

A recent investigation into the use of medications and prescription drugs in nursing homes revealed an alarming picture of the pharmaceutical mistakes made by those in charge of care for our seniors. The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Public Health and showed that pharmacists were allowing patients to take drugs that have dangerous side effects for elderly patients.

Patients Endangered by Inattentive Providers

The study, conducted from May of 2010 to June of 2011, revealed that 18 of the 32 investigations into nursing home pharmacists involved cases of failing to "red-flag" cases or take other appropriate action for cases involving dangerous and life-threatening prescriptions. The public health department concluded that many pharmacists for these elderly patients overlooked or approved some prescriptions that involved medications at unsafe levels or combinations – unsafe prescriptions that are known to put patients at risk for seizures, accidents, and death.

One case presented by the study, for example, involved an elderly woman at a Campbell, California nursing home facility. She had a medical history of seizures, yet was prescribed two antipsychotic drugs and an antidepressant—all of which are linked to seizures among older patients. When questioned about the choice in prescription drugs that were given to this woman, the pharmacist told investigators that he had not noticed any irregularities that would put this patient at risk for seizures, despite the fact that she already suffered from seizures.

The study showed that too many pharmacists in California nursing homes have disbursed potentially lethal doses of antipsychotic medications to elderly patients. In California, the law requires nursing home pharmacists to monitor the residents' charts on a monthly basis to ensure that the correct medications are being taken for the appropriate amount of time and to ensure that they are not being taken in dangerous doses or in combination with other harmful medications. Failure to do so could result in catastrophic consequences.

California's Problem Is the Nation's Problem

While the study was conducted in California, the department believes that this problem is "widespread" in nursing homes throughout the nation. A recent nationwide report showed that at least 40 percent of prescriptions of atypical antipsychotics through Medicare were given in inappropriate or dangerous doses, given to patients for too long, given without need, and even given without monitoring.

Pharmaceutical error that results from the negligence of a pharmacist in a nursing home facility is medical malpractice. If your family member has suffered due to the actions of a pharmacist who failed to take proper care when prescribing risky medication, you have the right to hold the nursing home, doctor, or pharmacist accountable for their actions. Medications prescribed in harmful amounts or in dangerous combinations with other prescriptions can cause catastrophic outcomes in fragile patients. It is our responsibility as family members to take legal action to protect them and prevent it from happening again.

Speak with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

Talk to your local medical malpractice attorney—learn more about the options available to you to pursue a settlement on your loved one's behalf. Your family member may need to be treated for the illness or injuries they have suffered due to harmful prescription practices, and they'll need financial resources to pay for the hospital visit, a new nursing home, or even at-home care. Be sure that your attorney can build a claim capable of recovering all financial consequences your loved one has suffered.

Learn more about taking an active stance against unfair treatment in your family member's nursing home—contact your local medical malpractice lawyer today.

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