You might think that everything runs smoothly in a nursing home since it is all about taking care of the old, and it is assumed that extra care is taken in such facilities to ensure that the needs of the old are met. However, one particular procedure in nursing homes, medication administration, can get quite complicated in a nursing facility. We went over to nanha.org and got a deeper explanation of the matter.
To begin with, there is very high regulation of long-term care facilities in general at both the federal and state level. The administration of medication, in particular, is taken very seriously. There are standards and regulations that govern the process, and there is structure to the process as well.
The ‘Right’ Process
If you look into nursing literature, you will find plenty of information on the correct ways in which to go about the administration of medicine. The exact number of “rights” to the process varies from one expert to another, with some claiming five, others six and so on. The longest list we have found contained 10 rights and was compiled by nursing consultant Vivian Nwagwu:
- The right patient
- The right medication
- The right dosage
- The right time
- The right route
- The right education of the patient and their family
- The right of the patient or family to refuse the medication
- The right assessment of the patient before the medication is administered
- The right evaluation of the patient after the medicine is administered
- The right documentation of the entire process
Ultimately, whatever the model you use, the process of medication administration itself can be a bit cumbersome since it is influenced by a whole host of factors. To begin with, there might not be any physicians on-site that can observe the residents and their condition as well as evaluate their medical needs. Pharmacies might also be off-site and pharmacists might not spend a lot of time on-site. The patient population at the nursing home is also typically frail and each patient usually needs multiple medications administered at different times.
Mistakes Are Common
Studies have been conducted to find out the number of medication errors that occur at these areas. In a study of about 25 nursing homes in the state of North Carolina, there were errors recorded in 92 percent of the nursing homes. About 32 percent of these were cases of dose omission, 6 percent were cases of medication being administered to the wrong patient and 6 percent of the cases were the wrong product being administered.
According to the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, a medication error is any kind of preventable event that may potentially lead to harm while the health professional still controls the medicine.
While state boards can discipline nurses and other staff that commit such errors, it is always the case that some nursing homes will want to sweep things under the rug. You should protect yourself beforehand by hiring a nursing home attorney to help you get the best care possible in such situations and get you legal redress when things go awry.