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Medication errors in nursing homes and other inpatient facilities are recognized as common problems in the medical field. A medication error is defined as a mistake that occurs while preparing or administering medicine. A medication error occurs when it contradicts the doctor’s orders, the manufacturer’s instructions, or the accepted professional standard regarding that medicine.

5 Types of Medication Errors in Nursing Homes

There are many ways medication errors can occur in nursing homes and other inpatient facilities, including:

1. Medication Commission and Omission: Medication commission means a medication was prescribed, dispensed, or given incorrectly. Errors of omission are when a medication that should have been given, prescribed or dispensed was not. In nursing homes or inpatient facilities, medication is dispensed by the nursing staff to residents according to order. Some examples of errors that can occur are: a pill is sliced or cut when it shouldn’t be, not giving enough liquids with medications when the prescription calls for a certain amount or failing to mix, shake or roll the medication.

2. Providing Expired or Old Medication: Passing out medications at nursing homes or inpatient facilities can sometimes take hours depending on the type of medication and the number of residents. With the high volume of residents compared to the number of staff, as well as undertrained staff or overworked staff, medication expiration dates can get overlooked.

3. Incorrect Medication Dosage Timing or Technique: Unfortunately, this can also be caused when facilities suffer from understaffing or poorly trained staff. The right medication can be given but at the wrong dosage. This could lead to overmedication. Other times, medications need to be taken at a certain time of day, and if not given at that precise time, it could also lead to a reaction or an overdose of medication.

4. Lab Errors: There have been instances where a medication gets filled incorrectly, which could be due to a communication error on the prescription, or between the physician and the pharmacy. This could then result in the wrong medication, or dosage being given to the resident.

5. Providing the Wrong Form of Medication: Often in nursing homes or other inpatient facilities, a medical condition, or even just old age, can cause swallowing a pill to be a challenge. If a physician prescribes the wrong form of medication, this could become a problem, by having the resident choke or not tolerate a specific form. There are also instances where people have a reaction to a pill form but tolerate the liquid form and vice versa.

Should I Hire a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer For a Medication Error?

According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a 2016 study revealed that 16 to 27 percent of nursing home residents experienced medication errors. Studies investigating transfer-associated medication errors reported occurrence rates of 13 to 31 percent among residents. Studies looking into the number of residents prescribed at least one potentially inappropriate medication revealed that 75 percent of residents experienced such an error. Thankfully, death resulting from a medication error was found to be extremely rare.

If your loved one is involved in a medication error incident at a nursing home or other inpatient facility, take immediate action to rectify the situation. Ensure your loved one is receiving proper medical treatment. Do not hesitate to remove your loved one from the facility. Be sure to document any injuries caused by medication errors with photographs and witness statements if possible, but let a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney help you take on the nursing home or inpatient facility. Nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys can help you obtain settlements large enough to cover temporary or lifelong costs associated with medical mismanagement and other nursing home or inpatient facility injuries.

Attorney Benjamin S. Wagner


Benjamin S. Wagner is a shareholder with the firm. His practice includes nursing home abuse and neglect, personal injury, car accidents, construction accidents, premises liability incidents, wrongful death and motorcycle accidents. Benjamin has successfully tried numerous cases throughout Wisconsin. Because of his significant trial experience and success, he has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and as an advocate by the National Board of Civil Pretrial Practice Advocacy.

He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2003 and received the Phillips Owens Memorial Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement and community service.

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Attorney Molly C. Lavin


Molly Lavin is a Shareholder with the Firm and co-managing partner of the Waukesha office. She is a second-generation lawyer, following in the footsteps of her father. Molly focuses her practice in the area of general personal injury law. This means that Molly has handled cases with a varied set of facts. Many of her cases involve injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. She has also handled cases involving nursing home injuries, slip and falls, sexual assaults, dog bites, pharmacy errors, and injuries caused by home or building owners and/or contractors.

Molly graduated cum laude from Marquette University Law School and received her B.S. from the University of Dayton.

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