If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a medication error at a nursing home, you may wish to know whether you could take action against the home. We have created this guide to help you understand your rights regarding care home negligence of this type.
Part of a care home’s duty towards its patients is to provide them with safe, effective care. They should have safeguarding protocols in place to ensure that they mitigate risks of harm to residents. One area of care that care homes must ensure is safe and effective is the provision of medication.
In the sections that follow, we explain how being given the wrong medication in a care home could affect a patient and how care homes should prevent medication or prescription errors when prescribing, preparing, dispensing or administering medicines. We also discuss how a medication error at a care home could constitute care home negligence and who could file a claim against a care home for such an error.
If you or a loved one experienced an adverse drug reaction or another injury due to a medication error, we would be glad to assist you. Our team could offer you free legal advice, and could even put you in contact with a lawyer that could help you. All you need to do is call our expert team on 0161 696 9685 to get started.
Select A Section
- A Guide To Medication Error At A Nursing Home Claims
- Medication Error At A Nursing Home: Compensation Calculator
- Types Of Special Damages For Nursing Home Errors
- What Is A Medication Error At A Nursing Home?
- When Should People Consider Going Into A Nursing Home?
- Duty Of Care: Care Home Medication
- Reporting Medicine Related Incidents
- Causes Of A Medication Error At A Nursing Home
- Adverse Drug Reactions Caused My Medication Errors At A Nursing Home
- Considerations For Care And Nursing Home Providers
- How Do I Claim For A Medication Error At A Nursing Home?
- No Win No Fee: Medication Error At A Nursing Home Claims
- Talk To Us
- More Information
When we entrust our care, or that of a loved one to a care home, we should be able to do so with confidence that they will provide safe, effective care. However, according to the British Medical Journal, over 237 million medication errors are made annually in England. If you or a loved one experience harm due to a nursing home medication error, you could consider making a claim for compensation.
A medication error at a nursing home could have very serious consequences. Residents could experience an adverse drug reaction (ADR), overdose or allergic reaction. An underdose could lead to a condition becoming worse or harder to recover from. In very serious medication errors in care homes, the effects could be fatal.
This is why care homes should take great care when prescribing, preparing, dispensing and administering medication to a resident. If you or a loved one suffers harm from a care home medication error, this guide could help you understand how to make a claim and how much compensation could be appropriate for your claim.
Your Questions Answered
In this guide, we explore how to calculate compensation for a medication error at a nursing home. We also explore the duty of care that care homes have for their residents and answer common questions such as:
- What is the most common medication error?
- Which medication errors are reportable?
- What happens to a nurse who makes a medication error in the UK?
- What should you do if you make a medication error?
If you have questions that are not covered in this guide, or you’d like to get free legal advice about claiming nursing home negligence, you can call at any time.
Before we explore what to do if the wrong medication has been given to a patient, let us look at how compensation amounts for such claims are calculated. Lawyers work out compensation payouts by looking at each case’s circumstances and facts, including medical evidence.
Claimants would obtain this medical evidence by attending an appointment with a medical expert. They would review the injured party’s previous medical notes (if applicable), examine the person and put together a medical report. The medical report would contain details of their injuries and the medical expert’s professional opinion regarding their prognosis.
Guideline Payout Amounts
It would be unlikely for an online claims calculator to generate an accurate compensation payout. The best these tools can do is provide a rough estimate. We have therefore chosen not to include such a tool on this page. Instead, we have put together a table containing recommended figures from the Judicial College Guidelines.
Lawyers could use this publication to calculate compensation amounts for a range of injuries. If you have sustained an injury that doesn’t appear on the table, please call us. We’ll be happy to give further guidance over the phone.
|Type of injury/illness
|Guideline Payout Amount
|Chest injury (a)
|Internal chest injuries that could include serious heart damage.
|£94,470 to £140,870
|Kidney injury (a)
|Serious permanent damage to both kidneys, or loss of both kidneys
|£158,970 to £197,480
|Kidney injury (b)
|Injured parties would have a significant risk of developing future infections in the urinary tract or would lose natural kidney function altogether.
|Up to £60,050
|Kidney injury (c)
|A loss of one kidney with no injury to the other.
|£28,880 to £42,110
|Non-traumatic injury (for example, poisoning) (i)
|Severe toxicosis with serious and acute pain, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. Cases in this bracket would usually require admission to hospital for days or even weeks. Continuing symptoms would significantly affect enjoyment of life.
|£36,060 to £49,270
|Non-traumatic injury (for example, poisoning) (ii)
|Short-lived yet serious incidents of poisoning. Symptoms such as disturbed bowel function.
|£8,950 to £18,020
|Non-traumatic injury (for example, poisoning) (iii)
|Poisoning that causes stomach cramps, significant levels of discomfort and fatigue as well as altered bowel function. Hospital admission may be required for some days. Symptoms would usually last for a few weeks. A full recovery would be possible within 1 to 2 years.
|£3,710 to £8,950
Different types of damages could make up a compensation payout for a medication error at a nursing home. We explain what damages you could claim below.
These are designed to compensate claimants for the loss of amenity, pain and suffering their injuries cause. The table in the section above illustrates these types of damages.
A compensation payout could also include special damages. These are designed to compensate claimants for any financial losses caused by their injuries. They could include damages such as those listed below.
If a victim of negligence incurs care costs due to their injuries, they could include such costs within their claim.
Claimants could also include medical expenses such as prescription costs and even private counselling fees within their claim.
Special damages could also cover the cost of travelling to medical appointments or meeting with lawyers.
Loss Of Income
If a victim of negligence loses income because of their injuries, they could include such damages within their claim.
If you have lost a loved one due to a medication error at a nursing home that constitutes care home negligence, you could include funeral costs within your claim.
Proof Of Special Damages
If you’re claiming for special damages relating to someone being given the wrong medication in a care home, you need to provide evidence of the costs and losses you’re claiming for. Therefore, it would be useful to have all the relevant documents, such as bank statements, bills, and payslips to hand so you could provide them to your lawyer if you choose to use one.
Part of a nursing or care home’s duty towards its residents is to provide them with any medication they need to treat short-term illnesses and long-term conditions. Care homes must administer medication according to the dosage instructions, whether patients take a medication once or several times a day. It is also important to make sure care homes do not mix up medications between patients. They should, therefore, take care when:
- Prescribing medication
- Preparing medication
- Dispensing medication
- Administering medication
If proper care is not taken to ensure patients get the right medication at the right dosage at the right time, a patient’s condition could worsen. This could lead to them suffering harm that could have been prevented.
If a nursing home’s medication error leads to a patient suffering undue harm, they could claim compensation. If they do not have the mental or physical capability to claim, a relative could act as their litigation friend and claim on their behalf.
How Could A Medication Error Occur?
There are several ways in which a medication error could occur. It could be the result of:
- A doctor prescribing the wrong medication/wrong dosage of medication
- A pharmacist dispensing the wrong medication/wrong dosage of medication
- Someone misreading the instructions for medication and distributing it at incorrect times
- Care home staff administering the wrong medication/wrong dosage to a patient
- A failure to continue monitoring a patient who is taking medication
While care home staff may not be responsible for prescribing and dispensing medicines, they could prepare, administer, and monitor patients. If they fail in this regard, and the patient suffers harm as a result, the patient or their litigation friend could launch a claim against them. If you believe you could have a claim, please call our team for free legal advice. We’d be happy to help you.
There are several ways people could receive care if they cannot look after themselves independently. Options could include:
- Daily visits from a carer
- Live-in care in their own home
- Moving in with family
However, sometimes these options are not available or feasible for the patient. People may consider moving into a care home if they:
- Are socially isolated due to mobility issues
- Have suffered injuries that mean they cannot take care of themselves
- Are suffering from mental decline
- Struggle to take medication they need
- Cannot manage their own hygiene needs
These are just a few examples. If the patient or a relative believes there is a need for a care assessment, they should arrange this. The results of a care assessment may include recommendations for the patient to move into a care home or nursing home.
What’s The Difference Between A Care Home And A Nursing Home?
A care home is a home where patients receive help from care assistants that could include:
- Assistance with toileting
- Help getting up and going to bed
- Assistance eating meals
A nursing home also provides care to those who cannot take care of themselves. Nurses, supported by care assistants, carry out the care. Residents may also have:
- The inability to leave their bed
- A long-term medical condition
- Complex medical needs
Care homes have a duty of care, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to provide care that is:
- Responsive to patient’s needs
Operators of care homes should ensure that homes are well-maintained. Operators should look for ways to improve the safety of both the home and the care offered there. When it comes to medication, the CQC states that staff should give medication appropriately and store it properly.
If the CQC inspects a home that is not providing safe, effective care when it comes to medications, it could issue a fine to the care home and dictate that standards be raised. In fact, in 2014, the CQC fined a care home in Merseyside due to its ‘unsafe use and management of medicines’.
Care Home Duty Of Candour
Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 20, care homes must inform patients or their representatives if there has been a safety incident. They should provide all the facts relating to the incident if the incident could result in or did result in:
- The death of the patient
- Severe harm to the patient
- Moderate harm to the patient
- Prolonged psychological harm to the patient
What Should You Do If You Make A Medication Error That Doesn’t Cause Harm?
Care homes are not legally obliged to inform patients of a ‘near miss’ incident that does not result in harm.
Whether a medication error at a nursing home has caused psychological or physical harm, the victim or their representative could claim compensation for it.
For those wondering what to do if the wrong medication is given to a patient, the below shows the reporting requirements for safety incidents:
Do You Report Medication Errors To CQC?
You may be surprised to learn that there is no legal requirement to report medication errors to the CQC unless they cause:
- A death
- An injury
- An incident that the police investigate
There are also safeguarding incidents that care homes should learn from if they happen. These could include:
- The deliberate withholding of medicine/s without a valid reason
- Deliberate attempts to cause harm by way of medication
- Incorrect usage of medications for reasons that do not benefit residents
- Accidental harm by way of administration or medication error
A medication error at a nursing home could occur at various stages of the medication process. They could happen in:
- The prescription stage
- Preparation of medicine
- Dispensing of medication
- Administering medicines
- Monitoring patients who are taking medication
- Advising on medication
The causes of medication error could include:
- Staff fatigue
- Staffing levels
- Environmental conditions
- Poor training
Whatever reason a patient suffers harm due to a medication error at a nursing home, they or their litigation friend could launch a compensation claim.
Sometimes, a patient could suffer an adverse drug reaction when they take a new medication, when they are allergic to medication or when their medication shouldn’t be used with other medicines they take. It may not be possible for care home staff to predict when a patient could suffer an ADR in some cases. However, if the adverse drug reaction is the result of:
- Knowingly giving medication that interacts with other medication
- Giving a medication outside its intended use
- Knowingly giving medications that patients are allergic to
This could be considered care home negligence and could lead to a claim if the patient suffers harm as a result.
Care home providers or operators should, according to the CQC:
- Encourage their staff to report any medication errors quickly
- Maintain a ‘fair blame’ policy
- Have processes in place to learn from safety and safeguarding incidents
- Be able to make changes to improve patient safety
- Have a robust medication error procedure so they can carefully record any incidents and notify the relevant parties
In all cases, safety should take priority. In the event of a safety incident, care home providers should contact the relevant parties, which could include emergency services or the family/carer to the patient. They should also encourage patients and their families to report any concerns with medication errors.
If you are claiming for a medication error at a nursing home that has caused you harm, you might want to take the following steps:
- Gather evidence. If you have photographs of the medication or documents relating to it, it would be wise to keep these safe.
- If anyone witnessed the error, taking witness contact details might be useful as a solicitor could contact them to make a statement.
- Write your account of the incident. Taking notes about what has happened could be useful later on if you forget something. It could also be useful to continue writing about the medication error effects if they continue to cause you trouble.
- Get free legal advice. If you think you could have a claim, why not contact Advice.co.uk for free legal advice? We could help you ascertain whether you could be eligible to claim. We could also put you in touch with a lawyer who could help you.
Claiming As A Litigation Friend
If you’re claiming on behalf of someone who a medication error has harmed at a nursing home, you could also take the above steps. Our panel would be happy to help you start a claim for a loved one who cannot claim for themselves.
Making a claim for compensation with the help of a lawyer doesn’t have to mean extra financial stress. With No Win No Fee claims, you could benefit from professional assistance without having to pay your lawyer’s fees unless your claim is successful. You would only pay your lawyer if they achieve a settlement for you.
The No Win No Fee Claims Process Explained
- Your solicitor sends you a No Win No Fee Agreement, which details a success fee. You would only pay this legally capped fee if your claim is successful and results in compensation. The success fee is a nominal percentage of your total compensation payout.
- You sign and return the agreement, and your lawyer builds your case and negotiates compensation on your behalf.
- Your compensation comes through, and the lawyer deducts their success fee from it. The rest of the balance belongs to you.
If your lawyer cannot achieve a payout for you, you don’t pay them the success fee. Nor do you cover their costs. To learn more about this process call our team to discuss how this works in further detail.
Do you feel ready to claim following a nursing home medication error, or are you looking for free legal advice from our expert advisors? Either way, we’d be glad to assist you. To get in touch with our knowledgeable advisors, simply:
In this final section of our guide, we’ve provided links to further reading which we believe may help you when researching medication error at a nursing home claims.
What End Of Life Care Involves – You can read about end of life care on this NHS site.
Care Standards For Nursing Homes – You might be interested in reading about care standards for nursing homes. This document could be useful if you are.
Duty Of Care – You can learn more about what a duty of care means when it comes to nursing in this guide.
Other Medical Negligence Guides
Care Home Negligence – Find out about claiming for other incidents of care home negligence in this guide.
Wrongful Death – You can learn more about wrongful death claims in this guide.
Prescription Errors – This guide explains how to go about claiming for a prescription error.
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