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Pain killers involved in most nursing home medication errors

No matter how many residents a nursing home has, there should be careful guidelines in place for administering medications. If the wrong medication -- or wrong amount of a prescription -- is given to those living in nursing home, serious injury can result. Chicago area nursing home residents rely on medical staff to provide attentive care and treatment.

Researchers from two major universities were curious about the frequency of medication errors in nursing homes, and what kind of drugs were most commonly involved in these incidents. After using data from two studies, they found that analgesics, or painkillers, are the cause of 12.3 percent of nursing home medication errors. Interestingly enough, the study results are accurate no matter how much one particular drug type is used in a given facility.

The study went beyond painkillers and took a look at a variety of drugs. Sedatives and diabetes medications were right behind analgesics in terms of frequency in nursing home neglect. Researchers suggested that further investigation should be done to determine why the most common errors were consistent across various facilities.

Oftentimes, nursing home residents have very specific needs. A person who is already in declining health might not be resilient enough to recover from receiving the wrong medication or wrong dosage.

Significant amounts of trust and money are involved in placing a loved one in long-term care. By haphazardly or inappropriately dispensing medication, nursing home staff is breaching their duty. In the event that a preventable error causes serious injury or death, action can be taken to help compensate the affected parties and help prevent future instances of nursing home neglect.

Source: McKnight's Long-Term Care News, "Analgesics account for most nursing home medication errors, researchers find," Tim Mullaney, June 17, 2013

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