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Nursing Home Neglect: Medication-Induced Falls

In Massachusetts, the standards for skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes is particularly stringent, a testament to the seriousness with which we approach the care of our senior citizens, especially those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  These standards are of paramount importance when considering the well-being of older adults, who are at a higher risk of serious injuries from falls, a concern that often brings family members to seek the expertise of nursing home abuse lawyers.  This blog post provides an overview of the importance of adequate interventions when an elderly resident is prescribed certain types of medication.

Assessment and Care Planning: A Cornerstone of Elderly Care

Nursing homes and their staff members are obligated to meticulously assess elderly nursing home residents, who are at a high risk of falling. This includes, performing a fall risk assessment, preparing a plan of care to reduce the risk for falls, and update that plan of care whenever the resident undergoes a change of condition.  Finally, to render care in accordance with that plan of care and the resident’s physician’s orders.  

Crafting and consistently updating a care plan, in harmony with the resident’s medical conditions and physician’s directives, is not just a recommendation—it’s a crucial legal and ethical requirement. This care plan is a critical component in minimizing risk factors and ensuring the quality of life for our elderly people.

Strict Adherence to Physician’s Orders: The Bedrock of Safe Medication Practices

The cornerstone of nursing home care is the adherence to the physician’s orders. Any deviation, unless necessitated by urgent medical situations, can constitute a breach of the standard of care, potentially leading to serious injuries, and result in nursing home fall lawsuits. This is particularly critical when considering the administration of medications known for increasing the risk of falls, such as psychoactive drugs or certain blood pressure medications.

Medication and Increased Fall Risk: A Delicate Balance

For our elderly residents, medication management can be a tightrope walk.  For example, a nursing home resident was prescribed psychoactive drugs, which decreased his own safety awareness, and heightened his risk of falling.  A common cause of falls that can cause hip fractures and head trauma among older individuals.  However, nursing home staff also removed his bed and chair alarms, allowing him to get out bed at night and walk to the bathroom, unassisted.  This underscores the necessity for meticulous nursing interventions, like bed alarms, and a robust fall risk assessment protocol.  

The Critical Timing of Medication Effects

Understanding the pharmacokinetics, like the peak effects of medications such as Klonopin and Ativan, is crucial. In our example, the elderly resident fell attempting to get out of bed at night, and the timing of the medication coincided with the resident’s fall, pointing to correlation between the medication’s peak effects and his increased risk of falls.  Proper interventions could have been put in place to prevent a fall such as this.    

Seeking Legal Guidance with Gavagan Law

At Gavagan Law, our expertise lies in navigating the complexities of nursing home negligence, especially cases intertwined with medication errors, or any form of inadequate care leading to fall-related injuries.  We delve into healthcare research, clinical practice guidelines, and the latest findings from the National Library of Medicine to advocate for the legal rights and safety of your loved ones.

If an elderly parent or loved one has recently fallen at a nursing home in Massachusetts and suffered serious injuries, Gavagan Law is committed to guiding you through the intricacies of these sensitive cases, and obtaining the compensation they deserve for their injuries.  Contact us for a free consultation.

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