Medication errors found in 9 percent of Illinois nursing homes

The rate of cited drug errors in Illinois nursing homes is lower than the national average, according to the director of the state’s public health department.

The news sounds comforting for Cook County residents with loved ones in long-term care facilities, but the medication error citation rate is still 9 percent. That excludes mistakes that weren’t detected among the state’s 85,000 nursing home residents.

An investigation by a Chicago television station learned 384 drug errors were uncovered by inspectors in Illinois nursing homes since 2011. Some patients had to be hospitalized for serious issues like blood sugar imbalances and respiratory problems. The errors led to an amputation and two deaths.

The head of the Illinois Health Care Association, a nursing home advocacy group, claimed long-term care facilities were not taking a stagnant approach to prescription medication errors. Continuing staff education and other efforts, like automated drug dispensers, were being used to decrease mistakes.

The IHCA president indicated a lack of Medicaid funding contributed to the problem. Nursing homes can be fined, decertified or closed when the state finds too many patient safety violations.

A lawsuit was brought against a Roseland nursing home, where a cancer patient died in 2010. Months after the resident was prescribed Gleevac in 2007, the family noticed the patient’s condition deteriorated.

Relatives later learned the facility staff had not given the patient the cancer drug for almost a year. The nursing home also reportedly did not make arrangements so the man could revisit his oncologist. The mistake was detected but not before the cancer was widespread.

The medical negligence suit was settled out of court.

The state wants families of nursing home residents to be proactive by asking questions about their loved ones’ medications and dosages. Families who feel a nursing home has harmed or caused the death of a patient may file negligence claims for damages through civil courts.

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Source: NBC Chicago, “Nursing Home Medication Errors Leading to Hospitalizations” Chris Coffey, Feb. 04, 2014