A company that provides drugs to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities recently settled federal civil claims against it that alleged that the company dispensed drugs to nursing homes without proper prescriptions for the medications. The $50 million settlement involves allegations that the company violated the provisions of the federal Controlled Substances Act that regulates drug distribution in the United States.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had investigated the company’s practices and procedures and found that the company sometimes dispensed drugs without prescriptions or without properly written prescriptions. Some of the improperly filled medication orders failed to state the name of the drug, the strength of the drug, the quantity of the drug, and/or the dose of the drug. The issue involved how the pharmacy managers communicated with the prescribing doctors at the nursing homes regarding the controlled medications.
The settlement with the federal government recognizes the obligation of pharmacies to receive signed prescriptions containing all of the required contents of prescriptions for controlled substances or to speak directly to the prescribers in emergency situations. The investigation had found that it was not an uncommon practice for pharmacies to dispense medications to nursing homes under the instructions of the nursing home staff who did not have the authority to prescribe controlled substances and without the patients’ doctors being involved in the process.
The federal government’s investigation did not involve allegations that the drugs received from the pharmacies were diverted to people other than the appropriate nursing home residents and the investigation did not involve the nurses or others who gave the medications to the nursing home residents.
Because many of the residents in nursing homes are taking multiple medications for their medical and other conditions, and all of the nursing home residents who take multiple medications must be closely, carefully, and constantly monitored regarding the effects of their medications, it is imperative that the residents’ physicians are made fully aware of their patients’ medical conditions, changes in their medical conditions, and the medications and other therapies being provided to their patients. Medical mistakes involving the care of nursing home residents and medical errors involving the medications that nursing home residents rely on can result in serious or deadly consequences for the residents.
Failure to follow procedures and protocols in nursing homes and sloppy record-keeping regarding the care and medications provided to nursing home residents are often cited as the basis for medical malpractice claims brought against nursing homes when residents suffer unanticipated and serious outcomes in nursing homes.
If you or a loved one suffered injury or death as a result of nursing home negligence, the prompt advice from a local medical malpractice attorney may be essential in protecting your legal rights.
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