One of the most common forms of nursing home abuse and neglect, medication errors cost facilities across the United States billions of dollars every year and can cause serious, even fatal injury to their residents.
The standard for an “acceptable” medication error rate in nursing and long-term care facilities is 5%. But while some mistakes are to be expected, repeated failures in a facility violate the rights guaranteed by the federal Nursing Home Reform Law, including a dignified existence and access to quality care. Carelessness, shortcuts or deliberate malpractice, like slicing or cutting pills that need to be given whole, or giving a patient too much medication, may also violate their right to self-determination.
Still, prevalence rates are alarming. A 2016 study published by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society concluded that as many as three-quarters of nursing home residents had been administered a potentially inappropriate medication at least once, and between 16% and 27% of residents were subjected to specific medication errors. Similarly, the American Journal of Medicine examined facility medication errors in a 2005 study and concluded that at least 40% were preventable.