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Nursing home medication errors could be fatal

Any time a loved one enters the care of a nursing home, the process can be a little frightening and it can be hard to know whether one is making the right decision or not. The truth is that it can be very hard to determine at first glance whether a nursing home or other assisted living facility is providing good care in the long term and whether a loved one will be safe there. Health inspectors and other government watchdogs are supposed to be there to protect patients in nursing homes from harm, but all too often we see cases in the news where not enough has been done to prevent injuries or deaths.

In one recent case, a family discovered that their loved one who had gone into a long term care facility to battle cancer had not been getting his cancer-fighting medications for over a year. Before this happened he was in remission and was doing well, but by the time the mistake was discovered he had only a short time left to live.

In an investigation by the department of health in one state, regulators found 284 nursing home medication errors, from missed doses to doses in too small or too large an amount.

When mistakes like this happen, families have a right to get answers and hold the nursing home accountable for its actions. In cases where someone has been injured or has become increasingly ill as a result of a nursing home mistake, they have a right to seek compensation for the additional medical costs as well as for the pain and suffering associated with that mistake in some cases.

Source: NBC Chicago, "Nursing Home Medication Errors Leading to Hospitals," Chris Coffey, Feb. 4, 2014.

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