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Medical Errors

Most nursing home and elder care facility residents depend on
medicine to treat illness and maintain their health.  In order to
ensure that medications are available and used safely, California
law requires nursing homes, care facilities and physicians to
properly order, record, store, administer, and monitor medications
for each patient or resident.  Despite the detailed standards,
medication errors, such as unnecessary medication and over-
medication, are common.

The laws governing the proper administration of medication at
nursing homes and residential care facilities for the elderly are
different depending on the type of facility involved but as a basic
rule, every facility must have in place for each resident a drug
regimen that must be reviewed at least once a month by a licensed
pharmacist.  The pharmacist must report any irregularities to the
attending physician and the director of nursing, and these reports
must be acted upon.  

Physicians or hospital staff can negligently give medication in error,
such as the wrong dose, wrong medication, or wrong method of
administration. Sometimes the manufacturing labels on medication
are confusing and lead to errors even by the best staff.
Medication can also be misused. A very common example includes
the use of tranquilizers to sedate patients so they are less ‘bother’
to the nursing staff.


Unnecessary Medication

Each resident's drug regimen must be free from unnecessary
drugs.  An unnecessary drug is any drug when used:
•        In excessive doses

•        For excessive duration

•        Without adequate monitoring

•        Without adequate indications for its use

•        In the presence of adverse consequences which indicate the
     dose should be reduced or discontinued

•        Any combination of the reasons above


Medication Errors

A care facility must ensure that it is free of medication error rates of
five percent or greater, and that residents are free of any
significant medication errors.

A medication error is a discrepancy between the facility's actions
and either a physician's orders, manufacturer's specifications, or
accepted professional medical standards.  A medication error is
considered significant when it causes the resident discomfort or
jeopardizes his or her health and safety.

The laws governing the proper administration of medication at
nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and skilled
nursing facilities are complex.


Failure to Monitor Medications

Most nursing home and elder care facility residents depend on
medicines to treat the illness they suffer from as well as to maintain
their health.  In California, any facilities that provide custodial care
for elderly or dependent adult patients or residents are allowed to
provide routine physician ordered medications and/or emergency
medications to their residents.

Moreover, in order to ensure that medications are administered
safely, California law requires all nursing homes, care facilities and
physicians to properly order, record, store, administer, and monitor
medications for each patient or resident.  Yet despite strict
standards governing the control and administration of medications,
medication problems, such as failure to monitor medications, are
common.         


IMPORTANT: Statute of Limitations
California has very strict "statutes of limitations" for injury claims.  
This means if the claim is not resolved, and a lawsuit is not filed
within the limitations period, the claimant will be
forever barred
from seeking money damages for injury claim.

Medical negligence, products liability, and elder abuse causes of
action are also governed by strict statute of limitations are some
periods are
very short!

Accordingly, for any cases involving medication errors, it is
important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
If you have questions about a case involving a medication error, or
medication misuse, please feel free to contact the Phillips Law
Group