Care Home Medication Prescription Error Compensation Claims – How To Claim? – What To Do?

How Do I Claim Compensation For A Care Home Prescription Medication Error?

Care home prescription error claims guide

Care home prescription error claims guide

Care homes, such as residential care homes and nursing homes, are responsible for providing their residents with the correct medication for their medical needs, amongst other responsibilities. A failure to do so correctly is negligent.

Perhaps this happened to a loved one or friend? If so, then it may be possible to claim compensation. If successful, you will be awarded money for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity  you or your family member has suffered, as well as funds to pay for any medical treatment you may be in need of.

If you have a relative who has been harmed because of a medication error in a care home and they lack the capacity to pursue the claim themselves, you can make it on their behalf. Any funds awarded will go towards your relative, guaranteeing that they will have the best quality of life going forward.

To begin your claim, contact Accident Claims UK today. Our trusted personal injury claims advisors can provide you with an excellent personal injury solicitor to handle your claim. Call us on 0800 073 8801 to speak to an advisor or use our online claims form to reach us.

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A Guide To Claims For A Care Home Medication Prescription Error

Care homes play an important role in taking care of people who are unable to care for themselves. This may be due to a physical or mental disability, a condition which reduces a person’s mental faculties such as dementia, or they may be too elderly or infirm to live independently. People who need to be fed through a tube, or have a colostomy bag, may also need to be cared for in a residential setting.

There are two types of care homes. Residential care homes provide accommodation for people who are unable to live independently and need help with aspects of personal care such as washing, dressing, and taking medicine. Nursing homes have a qualified nurse on duty at all times and provide residential care for people with more complex medical needs.

How is it decided whether or not a person needs to live in residential care? In the UK, a person will have a needs assessment, conducted by a social worker or occupational therapist employed by the local council, who will be able to determine if the person needs to go into residential care, or if other measures can be taken to help the person, such as visits from a carer or adapting their home to meet their individual needs. Contrary to popular opinion, families usually see the decision to move someone into a residential care home as a last resort.

In this guide, we will explain what a care home prescriptions error is and how it can affect residents, and we will advise you on working with a medical negligence solicitor to handle your care home medication error compensation claim.

What Is A Prescription Medication Error In A Care Home?

A range of medical professionals work with care homes to provide quality care to their residents.

  • Doctors may visit a care home to treat residents or treat a resident at the GP surgery or specialist hospital department where they work. Their role includes diagnosing a patient’s condition, prescribing suitable medications or treatments and assessing the effectiveness of these treatments.
  • Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing the correct type and dosage of medication to patients. They may also provide specialist advice to patients about how to take their medication effectively, or answer any questions they may have. A pharmacist may work for a care home, a group of care homes, or work in partnership with a care home.
  • Nurses and/or carers are employed by the care home. They are responsible for ensuring that the residents take the correct type and dosage of medication, at the correct time. Because the resident may not be able to speak for themselves or understand the advice given by the doctor or pharmacist it is important that they carry out these instructions correctly.

A prescription error means that a doctor, pharmacist, nurse or carer has made an error prescribing the medication, fulfilling the prescribed medication or giving the medication to the patient. Nursing homes have a duty of care towards their residents, so if a resident is harmed as a result of a care home prescription medication mistake, the home, or another party responsible (such as a pharmacy business or GP surgery) may be held liable for the resident’s subsequent illness or worsening of a pre-existing medical condition. As a result, the affected person, or a relative acting on their behalf, would have the right to claim compensation.

What Statutory Requirements Are There To Report Medication Errors?

By law, care homes are required to have a system in place whereby medication errors are reported. Any noteworthy errors, for example, an error where a care home has had a near miss, made a resident  ill, or contributed to a worsening of their medical condition, must be reported to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This is codified in the Health and Social Care Act  2008.

Guidelines To Handle Care Home Prescription Errors

Any medication errors must be reported to the care home duty manager and recorded. Of course, if a resident is showing signs of ill health as a result of being given the wrong medication, the nursing home staff should contact a doctor or call an ambulance as appropriate. Care homes should have a medical errors policy in place, to deal with medication errors and other types of medical mistakes. Care homes must also review prescription errors and medical errors, including looking at how the incidents of medical malpractice happened. Where possible new best practices should be put in place to avoid these types of mistakes happening again.

If the prescription error happened because of negligence on the part of a doctor or pharmacist that the care home works with, the error should be reported to them for review. The care home should work in partnership with the external practitioners (or in some cases, pharmacists employed by the care home), to help them improve their conduct and avoid similar medication errors happening in the future.

The East Berkshire Clinical Commission Group (CCG) has further guidelines on medication error reporting that care homes should follow.

What Steps Should Be Taken To Reduce Prescription Errors In Care Homes?

Almost all medications can be harmful or toxic if they are not taken in the right way.   If a resident is harmed because of a medication error in a care home, this is classed as medical negligence. Medical negligence is sometimes called clinical negligence, or medical malpractice. First of all, let’s briefly look at what types of prescription errors can take place:

  • A doctor prescribes, or a pharmacist dispenses, the wrong type of medication to a patient.
  • A doctor prescribes, or a pharmacist dispenses, the wrong dosage of medication to a patient.
  • A pharmacist accidentally mixes one type of medication with another, which can prove toxic.
  • A doctor or pharmacist gives a patient, or their carers  wrong advice about how to take medication safely and effectively.
  • A doctor doesn’t check a patient’s medical history and prescribes them medication that they are allergic to. In the case of a penicillin allergy, for example, this can be fatal.
  • A pharmacist mixes up prescriptions for one patient with another, so the wrong medication is dispensed for the wrong patients. Or care home staff mix up medications for one patient or another. This could involve several patients.
  • Care home staff or nurses give residents the wrong type or dosage of medication. Or they give the resident medication in a way that it is not supposed to be taken (for example, some medications are only effective if taken with food).
  • Some over the counter medications should not be taken with certain prescription drugs. This is because they can have a toxic or adverse effect. Care home staff should check the instructions, or consult a doctor, if necessary, before giving a resident over the counter medication.
  • An administrative error has taken place, for example, the notes for a nursing home resident are wrong, leading a carer or nurse to give the care home resident the wrong medication.

If prescription errors are so harmful, why do they happen? Staff in nursing homes are often overstretched and have to deal with difficult situations. A nursing home may be short-staffed, or staff may have to deal with a resident that has become distressed or is behaving in a difficult manner. As a result, unintentional mistakes can be made. With most prescription errors, the resident will recognise if the label on the medication packaging or bottle is different, or the medication itself looks different from what they were expecting to receive. Nursing home and care home prescription medication errors can also happen because the resident may not have the mental capacity to recognise that they are being given the wrong medication.

There are measures that can be taken to avoid the care home medication prescription errors taking place. These include:

  • Having a set schedule for dispensing medication to residents
  • Ensuring that care home and nursing home staff work in teams to safeguard residents against accidents
  • Regularly testing carers and nurses knowledge of the medication they give to residents

These practices should also be reviewed on a regular basis.

We will now look at common prescription errors that can affect care home residents in more detail.

Care Home Medication Over Prescription Errors

Over-prescription of medications can mean the following: the resident is prescribed too high a dosage of medication, instructions are given for the medication to be given more frequently than it needs to be, or the medication is prescribed for a longer period of time than needed.

Medication can be toxic if not taken correctly. If a resident takes too many it can lead to them suffering a cardiac arrest or slipping into a coma. Taking medication for a longer period of time than necessary can also mean that a patient suffers unwanted side effects.

Care Home Medication Under Prescription Errors

Under medication is when a resident is prescribed too low a dosage of medication, or is not given the medication they need, or the quantity they need by a care home. As a result, the resident’s condition can worsen over time. This means that conditions such as hyperlipidaemia or congenital heart failure can become more serious, posing a serious risk to the residents’ health.

Care Home Medication Ineffective Prescription Errors

Ineffective prescribing occurs when a doctor prescribes a medication that has little to no effect on the patient’s illness or condition. One study found that 6% of participating patients were prescribed medication that was ineffective. This can cause the patient’s condition to get progressively or rapidly worse, over time.

Compensation Calculator For Care Home Medication Prescription Errors

If you are considering making a medical malpractice claim against a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy or care home for a medication prescription error, you can use our personal injury claims calculator to help you estimate how much compensation you could be owed. Please be aware, this calculator does not include any special damages you could be entitled to claim.

Internal InjuriesNotes on this injurySettlement (including 10% uplift)
Kidney damage - Level AThe claimant will have either sustained severe damage to both kidneys, or have lost both kidneys.£158,970 to £197,480
Kidney damage - Level BThe claimant could have a significant risk or suffering the loss of funciton in the kidneys, or of facing future kidney related illnesses. Approximate maximum £60,050
Kidney damage - Level CLevel C kidney injury claims may be for an injury in which one kidney survives but one is fully lost (in function).£28,880 to £42,110
Chest injury - Level AA chest injury will affect the internal organs of the chest, such as the heart. At this level there has been a significant level of injury.£94,470 to £140,870
Non traumatic injury - Level (i)Non-traumatic injuries at level (i) may cause symptoms such as pain, diarrhoea and vomiting as well as severe levels of toxicosis.£36,060 to £49,270
Non traumatic injury - Level (ii)Injuries may not last for too long, but may be serious and could affect the function of your bowels as well as sexual function(s).£8,950 to £18,020
Non traumatic injury - Level (iii)Non-traumatic levels of injury in which the claimant experiences a level of discomfort requiring hospital admission and treatment.£3,710 to £8,950
Non traumatic injury - Level (iv)A level (iv) non-traumatic injury could cause the claimant to experience diarrhoea and stomach cramps as well as pains.£860 to £3,710

Special Damages Which Could Be Claimed For Care Home Negligence

If you make a successful claim for a medication error in a care home, you will be awarded a compensation package made up of general damages and special damages. General damages compensate the injured person for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the wrong medication error. You can also be awarded special damages to pay for any out of pocket expenses that you have suffered as a result of your injuries. This can include paying for any additional care or medical treatment you may be in need of as a result of your injuries. Examples of special damages awarded to clinical negligence compensation claimants include funds for medical expenses, care expenses, travel expenses and mobility equipment expenses.

How We Could Help You Make A Clinical Negligence Claim

If you have been made ill or had a pre-existing condition worsened because of negligence on the part of a care home, trust an excellent medical negligence solicitor provided by Accident Claims UK to handle your case. Our panel of solicitors have three decades of experience handling medical negligence claims, so you can feel assured that your claim is in safe hands. What’s more, the solicitor will correctly value your claim and push to win you the maximum amount of compensation you could be entitled to. To begin your compensation claim, or to claim compensation for your relative in need, call Accident Claims UK.

No Win No Fee Care Home Medication Prescription Error Claims

When you make a claim with Accident Claims UK, we will give you the option to enter into a No Win No Fee Agreement. This means that should your claim be unsuccessful you will not have to pay any of your solicitor’s fees. If you do succeed, your solicitor will charge you an agreed success fee which will be deducted from your compensation. Call Accident Claims UK to find out more about the benefits of making a No Win No Fee claim.

Begin A Compensation Claim

Accident Claims UK is a trusted clinical negligence claims adviser. If you or a loved one you wish to claim on behalf of has been harmed because they were given the wrong medication in a care home, due to a prescription error, call us today. One of our advisers will speak to you in-depth about the incident and if they can see that you or your relative is owed compensation, an excellent personal injury solicitor will be assigned to work on your case right away.

Supporting Resources

How Much Can I Claim For A Care Home Negligence Injury? – Find out how much you could claim if you have been harmed due to care home negligence.

NHS Negligence Claims – How Much Compensation Can I Claim?

How Much Can I Claim For Doctor Or GP Negligence? – Check in this guide to see what your claim may be worth.

External References

An NHS Guide To Drug Errors In Care Homes – In this NHS guide you can learn more about drug errors in the NHS.

A Care Quality Commission Guide – What could clients expect from a good care home

An NHS Guide To Care Homes – Further information from the NHS as to care homes in the UK.

Article by HC

Editor HW/RBG