Signs or Symptoms of Abuse or Neglect
Medication errors are defined as the inappropriate use of medications. Errors can occur at any point in the process: ordering, transcribing, dispensing, administering, or monitoring medications. A medication error is an error of commission or omission at any step along the pathway of treatment that begins when a clinician prescribes a medication and ends when the patient fails to receive the medication. An adverse drug event (ADE) is defined as harm experienced by a patient as a result of exposure to a medication.
In most states following federal regulatory standards, a nursing home must have a medication error rate of 5% or less. 42 C.F.R. § 483.25 § m. In addition, a patient’s drug regimen “must be free from unnecessary drugs” which includes drugs without a proper indication of use. Nursing homes must also institute programs to be free from antipsychotic medications, which can be improperly used as a chemical restrain.
In nursing home, the use of benzodiazepine like Haldol can cause more harm than good. Some typical benzodiazepines found in the drug store through prescription are:
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Restoril (temazepam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Halcion (triazolam)
- Dalmane (flurazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
In particular situations the intravenous anticoagulant heparin is considered one of the highest risk medications used in the inpatient setting. Safe use of heparin requires weight-based dosing and frequent monitoring of the blood’s clotting ability in order to avoid either bleeding complications (a dose to high) or clotting risks (an inadequate dose). If a clinician prescribes an incorrect does of heparin, that would be considered a medication error (even if a pharmacist detected the mistake before the dose was dispensed).
For more information on medication errors and how they happen, visit these websites:
- American Journal of Nursing: Medication Errors
- Review Virginia Regulations on Medication Errors and Drug Reactions
- Review Maryland Regulations on Medications Management and Administration
- Review District of Columbia Report on Malpractice Claims, which include data on multiple adverse events
At the federal Level, the US Government through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set up MedWatch. Consumers and patients can voluntarily report observed or suspected adverse events for human medical products to FDA. Voluntary reporting can help FDA identify unknown risk for approved medical products. Reporting can be done through our online reporting portal or by downloading, completing and then submitting FDA Form 3500B (Consumer/Patient) to MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.
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