Many nursing homes in Indiana have a tendency to be understaffed. Low pay has always been part of the problem, and fewer people have wanted to work in this environment, compounding the problem. This situation can lead to more medication errors that could affect your loved one.
Medication errors are life-threatening
BMC published a study in 2021 outlining how nursing home medication errors occur and how they may be prevented. Through first-hand interviews, the study looked at how medication errors occur from the perspective of registered nurses and non-licensed staff caring for nursing home patients. In addition to human shortcomings, study participants indicated that poor working conditions and the lack of safe tools for medication management were responsible for medication errors. Some of the risk areas included:
• Delegation of drug administration to non-licensed staff
• A lack of knowledge
• Poor communication
• A lack of understanding of the difficulties in handling drugs
• Little safety awareness among staff
Not having enough time to adequately attend to patients and their drug needs, particularly involving non-licensed staff, was perceived as particularly dangerous. Potential results of medication errors include serious illness, injury or death.
What this means for nursing home patients
If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, you should remain vigilant for possible personal injury resulting from medication errors. Ask the management staff who is responsible for dispensing medications in their facility. Although the front-line staff may want to avoid medication errors, that knowledge is insufficient without proper training and procedures.
Ask what the facility intends to do about making drug dispensation safer. If the nursing home doesn’t have any procedures in place to ensure safety, you may be better off moving your loved one to another facility before a dangerous, life-threatening event occurs.