Articles Posted in Medication Errors

Image result for elder abuseSeniors may be at a much higher risk of abuse and neglect when they live in for-profit nursing homes, compared to non-profit facilities.

New research published in the Gerontology journal recently indicates that residents of for-profit nursing home receive substandard care compared to residents of non-profit nursing facilities. According to the researchers, their study focused on more than 1,100 residents above the age of 60 who were treated at hospitals for the consequences of poor care between 2007 and 2011. Their study found that patients who were also residents of for –profit nursing homes were more likely to show up at the hospital for treatment of stage 3 and 4 bed sores, dehydration and broken feeding tubes and catheters. Residents of for-profit facilities were also more likely to suffer the consequences of improper or irregular delivery for their medications.

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Image result for burned outWorkplace fatigue and burnout is a problem affecting American doctors, and according to a new study, as many as half of all doctors in the country are experiencing symptoms of fatigue that actually increase their risk of medical errors.

The poll was conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, and focused on nearly 6,700 physicians. More than 10% of the doctors in the survey admitted to committing at least one major medical mistake in the three months before the survey. The researchers were also able to confirm that physicians who suffered from symptoms of burnout and fatigue were much more likely to commit serious medical errors.

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Image result for nursing homeA new report shows that most nursing homes often operate under lower staffing levels than they have reported to the government, placing residents at risk of abuse and neglect.

The report was released by Kaiser Health News, and was based on Medicare data. The agency only recently began collecting such staffing data on more than 14,000 such nursing facilities across the country. The data clearly indicates that there are fluctuations in staffing on a day-to-day basis in most nursing homes. Weekends tend to be critically understaffed, with large percentages of staffing shortages reported over the weekend.

The fact that nursing home staffing levels may not be consistent throughout the year has only now come to light after Medicare recently began collecting this important information. It is a suspicion, however, that Indianapolis nursing home abuse attorneys have had for several years.

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Inurse, nursingAn overwhelming majority of nurses report having to care for too many patients, and not having enough time to perform their duties efficiently and safely.

The annual survey of nurses in Massachusetts found that the biggest and most significant challenge for registered nurses in providing quality patient care was caring for too many patients during a single shift. About 77% of the nurses admitted that the strain placed on them in having to care for too many patients at a given time, definitely impacted their ability to perform their duties safely.

These challenges could also have serious and life-threatening consequences for patients. Approximately 77% of the registered nurses who participated in the survey admitted that frequent medication errors were the direct result of them caring for too many patients in a single shift. In fact, 72% of the nurses claimed that patient readmission was a very frequent and common result of their caring for too many patients during a single shift. About 64% of the nurses admitted that such unsafe assignments were directly linked to patient injury or harm.

Image result for emergency roomWhen emergency room doctors have a system that allows them to cross check their performances, it can lead to a reduction in medical errors, although not all types of errors.

Those results came from a randomized trial that was conducted in France, and involved a total of six emergency departments. Physicians in each of these departments were made to participate in cross-checks three times a day. During these checks, the physicians were required to present their cases to each other, and get feedback on the same. The results found that during the cross-check period, the rate of medical errors dropped to approximately 6.4% of patients who visited the emergency room, compared to 10.7%, during the non-check period during which patients got the standard care without any physician feedback.

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medication errorSeniors may be at a higher risk of suffering from a medication-related error. The Harvard Medical School has tips for seniors to prevent these dangerous errors and injuries.

There are reasons why seniors may be at a higher risk of suffering medication error-related injuries. Aging-related cognitive slowness may cause a senior to misunderstand a doctor’s instructions. Hearing impairment is also another factor in such misunderstandings.  That failure to understand instructions clearly could lead to overdosages and other possibly fatal errors.

Remember, there are a number of factors that affect not just the effectiveness of your drug, but also its ability to cause harm.  As a senior, you have the right to complete information about the medication that is prescribed for you. If your doctor has prescribed a certain medication, ask questions about it.

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anesthesia complicationsSeniors are living healthier and longer lives than ever before. With life expectancies on the rise, most seniors can expect to undergo at least one surgical procedure during their lifetime. That means going under general anesthesia, exposing the senior to a number of the complications that anesthesia can involve.

There is no denying the fact that an older mind is much more likely to suffer from the complications involved in general anesthesia. However, the good news is that due to advancements in medical technology, many of those complications can be foreseen and prevented.

One of the more common anesthesia complications that older patients are vulnerable to is postoperative delirium. A patient who suffers from postoperative delirium may come out of anesthesia feeling very confused or disoriented. He may have no awareness of his surroundings. There may be concentration and attention difficulties that may last from a few hours to a couple of days after the surgery. Generally, postoperative delirium only lasts for a maximum of a week after the surgery.

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Image result for iv dripA dose of acetaminophen could significantly increase comfort and reduce pain for patients coming out of anesthesia.

Those findings come from a recent study which was presented at a meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.  The study found that acetaminophen reduces the chances of patients suffering shivers and extreme chills when they wake up from the effects of anesthesia.

Approximately 50% of all patients who go under general anesthesia experience shivers, when they regain consciousness. The reason for these shivers is not known, but they are common after a surgery. These shivers are not just uncomfortable, but could also be painful. Additionally, such uncontrollable shivering when a patient comes out of anesthesia could actually be dangerous. It places a huge strain on the cardiovascular system, and preventing such shivering is always a priority for doctors. This is especially true in the case of patients who already have a high cardiopulmonary risk. For these patients, such shivering and chills could possibly be deadly.

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pills-1311434-1280x960-300x225Close to 40% of all medication error-related liability claims that were analyzed as part of a recent study involved opioids and anticoagulants.

Opioids were found to be involved in more liability claims involving medication errors than any other drug, accounting for 24% of all liability claims. Anticoagulants followed at a close second with 16% of all claims involving medications. According to the report, 42% of medication errors occurred in a clinical setting, while 30% of these errors ultimately resulted in a patient fatality.

In the study, researchers analyzed more than 10,000 liability claims filed against medical liability insurance companies between 2000 and 2016. Overall, they found that medical malpractice claims related to medication errors were the fourth leading cause of claims. The other three leading causes were diagnosis-related errors, surgery errors, and errors involved in medical management. Rounding off the top five root causes of medical liability claims were obstetrics-related claims.

Taking-Pills-300x225Medication errors, in which patients take the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, send hundreds of thousands of people to US emergency rooms annually. New technology, however, could help reduce the risk of these potentially serious errors.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently analyzed the effect of new software on medical error rates. They studied the medical records of more than 800,000 persons, and analyzed the impact of the software that was specifically designed to minimize the risk of mistakes during the prescription process.

The software, developed by an Israeli company, utilizes an approach that aims to point out errors in the medication prescribing or administration. For example, a drug that is typically used in pregnant women, but has been prescribed for an elderly male, is an anomaly that would not typically be identified or pointed out. The software however, finds these mistakes and according to the researchers, provides a very innovative way to notify healthcare personnel of such errors before they have any chance of adversely affecting the patient.