Placing your aging loved one in a nursing home is rarely an easy decision, but you may have to make it upon realizing that your loved one needs more assistance than you could reasonably provide. Unfortunately, not all nursing home environments are as safe and well-managed as you might like to think, and staff members are not immune to making errors. When those errors involve a resident’s medication, they have the potential to lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications.

Just how often are today’s nursing home residents falling victim to medication errors? According to the Pharmaceutical Journal, drug errors are so prevalent in nursing homes that they impact between 16% and 27% of all residents.

Additional findings

A review of 11 separate studies involving the prevalence of medication errors in nursing homes revealed troubling information about just how often residents are receiving the wrong medication or the wrong amount of a particular medication. Research showed that as many as 75% of nursing home residents have had staff members prescribe or administer medications that were potentially inappropriate or dangerous. Transfer-related medical errors, which occur when staff members move residents from one setting to another, have impacted between about 13% and 31% of nursing home residents.

Improper dosage risks

Ultimately, the 11 studies showed that medication dosing errors are the most common type of drug error occurring in U.S. nursing homes. Unfortunately, medication dosage errors are also more likely to cause residents harm than any other type of drug error.

Also concerning is the fact that while these numbers are troubling enough, many believe they only tell part of the story. Many medication errors in American nursing homes go unreported, so it is tough to know exactly how many nursing home residents they are affecting nationwide.