Any regular readers of this blog site know that two of my primary concerns are medication errors and nursing home negligence. The two areas are not entirely unrelated. Medication errors often harm the most vulnerable – children and infants, people weakened from the illness that is being treated, elderly patients. Nursing home negligence always harms those who are vulnerable. Tragically, the two forms of negligence have come together in too many cases, to create what the Boston Globe described last year as a “medication errors plague” amongst nursing home residents.
Nursing home drug errors, according to a study conducted in Massachusetts, harm a shocking one out of every ten nursing home residents. Nearly three quarters of the most severe injuries could have been readily prevented with the exercise of proper care. The Massachusetts study was supported by an earlier study conducted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The NIA study reported medication errors in nursing homes, as “common” and “often preventable.” A family’s decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is often described by the family members making the decision, as the most gut wrenching of their lives. The notion of placing a parent or spouse into a place of care, only to have them hurt or killed by preventable negligence, is terrifying and unpardonable. Attackers of the civil justice system, the self-dubbed “tort reformers” would allow harm to be placed on elderly loved ones in nursing homes, with no remedy in the law. They will never succeed if horrors such as those reported in the nursing home studies are brought loudly and repeatedly to light.