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Nursing home error with medication invites federal intervention

Nursing home patients in California and all throughout the country are trusting their care providers when it comes to just about every aspect of their lives. Few things are more imperative to a nursing home resident than their medications, receiving it when they are supposed to and in its proper dose. This is what makes medical negligence such a damaging occurrence on many different levels. A nursing home error can lead to patient injury and it can even be fatal. Knowing how to recognize when it has happened and what to do about it is key for the injured party or the family.

Errors being made in nursing homes with Coumadin, the blood thinning medication, have resulted in people being hospitalized and dying. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a memo to health departments across the country about the failure on the part of nursing homes to correctly monitor the drug. Inspection reports showed that between the years 2011 and 2014, there were 165 people who were residing in nursing homes who had to be hospitalized or suffered fatal damage after either being given too much or too little of Coumadin -- too much of the drug led to internal bleeding, too little of it caused blood clots and strokes.

CMS is the federal agency whose responsibility it is to regulate nursing homes. In their memo from July, they informed state health departments that they should conduct inspections in nursing homes with a new tool that is meant to find medication errors and eliminate them. At the very least, the agency wants to react when mistakes do happen.

The proper dose of Coumadin is beneficial, but it can also place people in jeopardy if it is not regulated. This is on top of other issues that arise in nursing homes such as the use of antipsychotic medications that are known to place patients in danger of falling.

The best case scenario for a person who has been placed in a nursing home is that there will be a high standard of care and attention paid by the medical staff. Unfortunately, many facilities make mistakes that can cause patients to become ill or to die. Those who have been harmed or lost a loved one because of a nursing home error need to understand how to pursue compensation with the assistance of a legal professional.

Source: Washington Post, "Feds: More scrutiny needed of nursing home errors involving blood thinner," Charles Ornstein, Aug. 3, 2015

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