The Impact of Nursing Home Medication Errors on Blood Sugar Levels
Date: 24 October 2023 | Blog | Nursing Home Neglect | Hypoglycemia | By: Sanga Turnbull
Medication errors are a significant problem in nursing homes. These errors can lead to severe consequences, such as hospitalization, disability, and even death. One of the critical areas where medication errors can occur is in the management of diabetes in nursing home residents. Diabetes is a common chronic condition among older adults, and it requires careful monitoring and management of blood sugar levels. However, medication errors can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can have a severe impact on the health and well-being of residents. The most common medication errors arise from nurses failing to follow Sliding Scale Insulin Therapy as ordered.
Causes of Medication Errors in Nursing Homes
Medication errors in nursing homes can occur due to various factors, such as human error, inadequate staffing, lack of training, poor communication, Here are some specific examples of these causes:
- Human Error: One common cause of medication errors in nursing homes is human error. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing found that medication errors in nursing homes often result from "inattention, forgetfulness, and other errors that occur when medication administration is rushed or incomplete" (Zimmerman, Krock, & Haas, 2015). Human error can also occur when staff members fail to follow established protocols, such as double-checking medication orders or verifying the identity of the resident.
- Inadequate Staffing: Another factor that can contribute to medication errors in nursing homes is inadequate staffing. When nursing homes are understaffed, staff members may feel rushed or overwhelmed, which can increase the likelihood of errors. A case study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality found that inadequate staffing in a nursing home resulted in medication errors and other adverse events, such as falls and pressure ulcers (Blegen, Goode, & Reed, 1998).
- Lack of Training: A third factor that can lead to medication errors in nursing homes is a lack of training. Staff members who are not adequately trained on medication administration may be more likely to make errors, such as administering the wrong medication or dosage. The lack of training can lead nurses to miss the sign and symptoms of hypoglycemia. A study published in the Journal of Nursing Education and Practice found that nursing home staff members who received additional training on medication administration had a significantly lower rate of medication errors (Kuo, Liu, Ma, & Wu, 2016).
- Poor Communication: Poor communication among healthcare providers can also contribute to medication errors in nursing homes. For example, if a physician does not provide clear medication orders, or if a pharmacist does not communicate potential drug interactions, staff members may be more likely to make errors. A case study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration found that a lack of communication between physicians and nursing home staff led to medication errors and adverse drug events (Cohen, Halasyamani, & Kripalani, 2011). However, nursing homes have safeguards in the event these miscommunications happen. For example, there is a daily Interdisciplinary Team Meeting in which nurses can create Individualized Care Plans that ensure residents are receiving the correct medications.
Consequences of Medication Errors on Blood Sugar Levels
Medication errors can have severe consequences on the blood sugar levels of nursing home residents. Some of these consequences include:
- Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common consequence of medication errors. It can cause symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, seizures, and even coma.
- Hyperglycemia: Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is another consequence of medication errors. It can cause symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and fatigue.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Diabetic ketoacidosis is a severe complication of diabetes that can occur due to medication errors. It is characterized by high levels of ketones in the blood, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and even coma.
- Hospitalization: Medication errors can lead to hospitalization, which can be costly and traumatic for nursing home residents and their families.
- What are some common medication errors that can affect blood sugar levels in nursing home residents?
Some common medication errors that can affect blood sugar levels in nursing home residents include administering the wrong medication, administering the wrong dosage or frequency of medication, and failing to monitor blood sugar levels appropriately.
- How can nursing home staff prevent medication errors that affect blood sugar levels?
Nursing home staff can prevent medication errors by improving communication, adequately staffing nursing homes, providing staff members with adequate training, and using technology to ensure medication safety.
- What are some signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in nursing home residents?
Some signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in nursing home residents include dizziness, confusion, shakiness, sweating, headache, and weakness.
- What are some signs and symptoms of high blood sugar in nursing home residents?
Some signs and symptoms of high blood sugar in nursing home residents include increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, fatigue, and slow healing of cuts and wounds.
- Why is it important to prevent medication errors in nursing homes?
Preventing medication errors in nursing homes is essential because these errors can cause severe consequences, such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, hospitalization, disability, and even death. Moreover, medication errors can erode the trust between residents and healthcare providers and increase healthcare costs.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medication errors or elder abuse in an Orlando nursing home, it's important to seek the advice of a qualified Florida nursing home abuse attorney. An experienced Orlando Neglect attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and can work to hold the nursing home accountable for any harm that has been done. A local attorney will have a better understanding of the nursing homes and healthcare providers in your community, and can provide you with personalized representation. A Florida elder abuse attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim, negotiate with insurance companies and take your case to court if necessary.
Call 407.612.6464 • 863.324.3500 today to speak with an experienced Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer who proudly serves Lakeland, Orlando, and throughout the State of Florida.