Medication Errors Pose Particularly Serious Risk to Seniors

For all age brackets, there is likely not a single more prevalent form of medical treatment related error than medication mistakes. Obviously not everyone has complex surgical procedures often or has cancerous growths that doctors fail to catch. But virtually everyone takes some form of medication on a daily or weekly basis. The prevalent use of various drugs increases the chance of mistakes. With so many seniors, both at home and in nursing homes, being particularly dependent on medications, they represent the age group that most suffers from medication errors. In our area, Illinois nursing home neglect often takes the form of facility employees who make these types of mistakes.

Medicine Net News recently discussed the problem, emphasizing the need for improvements. The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention explains how 1.3 million people are harmed across the country every year because of medication errors. That figure accounts for a wide-range of errors including “any preventable event which may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patients, or consumer.”

The Food and Drug Administration explained how fatal medication errors most often involve improper dosages given to patients. When a patient receives more mediation that the body can handle at one time serious consequences often arise. Those whose bodies are perhaps most vulnerable-the oldest and youngest citizens-are most likely to suffer problems.

The FDA data indicates that of all groups of citizens, the elderly are most at risk. Virtually half of all medication errors that result in the death of a patient occur in those who are over the age of 60, including many nursing home residents. The physical weakness of many seniors and the extent to which they depend on drugs on a daily basis are the likely reason for their vulnerability. On the other end of the spectrum, young children, particularly infants and newborns, often suffer deadly complications when their medical providers give their small bodies more foreign substances than it can handle.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti know al too well the deadly consequences of medication errors for seniors. Residents and their families rightfully rely on the decisions made by their doctors about what type of medication to take, how much, and when. The actions of those employees who administer the drugs are just as vital. The legal system specifically provides for accountability if your loved one has suffered from one of these mistakes.

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