Patient Stories- Medication Errors

18 Jun 2021
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There are many patient stories in regards to medication and errors. Medication errors result in approximately 700,000 ER visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year.

Many medication errors are preventable. The following story shows the human tragedy of medication omissions; how the mistake happened, how the mistake was discovered and the consequences for both the patient and the family.

In November 2011, my mother was placed in a nursing home, having suffered a massive stroke. She was transferred to the nursing home from the local hospital after six weeks, as her condition had stabilized, and she required rehabilitation. My mother had not regained her speech, her ability to walk, or to do any independent activities of daily living. The transferring hospital sent all the documentation regarding her medical and pharmaceutical orders for her care management.

Our mother suffered most of her life with depression and was on medication for most of this time. The medication our mother was on, Fluoxetine, was the usual drug she took. Over many years I knew that a side effect of this was that she never cried, even when my father died, her husband of 57 years.
My brother and I became concerned when we noticed she was frequently crying. After experiencing her sobbing on her birthday December 25th, I asked the Nurse for her medicine chart and saw that the Fluoxetine was not being given and initially thought this may have been due to the stroke. I enquired of her doctor, who informed me that the dose had been increased because of the pain after her stroke.

So, for 35 days following admission to the nursing home, my mother had not been given this drug. In other words, she had not been weaned off it but was going through withdrawal, with symptoms that were hugely distressing to her and above all distressing to us. What makes this worse is that she could not speak and tell us; it affects me to this day.

The error was only discovered through my actions. For my brother and I, even all these years, this was a most dreadful time of our lives. Our mother was a great mother, even with her depression. Through her life, she would have fought for us, looked after us when ill, and kept us all healthy.

When dealing with the nursing home, we were made to feel inadequate, at one point being described as liars, hitting brick walls. We were frustrated and extremely helpless. Apart from the distress, we were also labelled as a difficult family. All we wanted was the truth, and now for me, I want to fix the system, regarding a safe method of dealing with a patient’s medication records.

My mother died aged 85, and because of an inadequate system, she had an unnecessary terrible end of life.

Ten years later this event can still have me in tears. My brother and I leave it hanging in the air as it is still very difficult to talk about it. Writing this today brings all those memories back but we did our best under terrible circumstances. I just never know what my mother thought when looking at us with her sad eyes. Did she know we were fighting for her? I am crying again.

Authors Name Withheld, Mon 22 March 2021

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Are you a Caregiver? Are you Stressed, Burned Out?

18 Jun 2021
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caregiving support

You are not alone!

According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29% of the adult U.S. adult population, involving 31% of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative. And these numbers are not decreasing. Two-thirds of the U.S. public expects to be caregivers in the future, and 43% report that it is very likely that they will become a family caregiver at a future time (Opinion Research Corporation, 2005).
Of the caregiving recipient population, 28% live alone, nor being in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.


Caregiving in a Rural Environment

Caregivers in rural areas face unique challenges including limited access to primary and emergency health care, supportive services, and accessible transportation. In research that has been undertaken, caregivers of individuals with dementia experience greater psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, and hostility, as the caregiver burden increases.

12 Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiver stress is very real and there are many signs, among them:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feeling a sense of constant worry
  • Being irritable or angry at even trivial things
  • Pains such as headaches, bodily pain
  • Abuse of alcohol, prescription medications or drugs
  • Less energy than you once had
  • Inability to relax
  • Life revolves around caregiving but it doesn’t give you any joy
  • Neglect of your own health

Are any of these your experience? Did it occur to you that the source of this might be your caregiving responsibilities?
As with any healthcare situation, first, it is important to be alert to it. And there are things that you can do, so being mindful of the signs may help you prevent them happening to you.

One of the areas about which caregivers say they worry concerns medications being used by the recipient of the care. This is especially true when the caregiving is not so much day to day but remote, as when, perhaps, a son or daughter lives in a different city to their parent or parents. Medication error happens each and every day, despite the best efforts of clinicians everywhere. Most times it occurs because of a lack of accurate information about the medications that a person is actually taking, which could be an incomplete list, incorrect dosage, or inaccurate frequency information.

Medication Information in an Emergency

One of the most worrying situations is if a loved one is brought to a hospital or clinic in an emergency. Frequently, in that situation, the patient is unable to provide either some or all of the details of their medications. And so the telephone call goes out to the caregiver. This is indeed one of those stressful situations. After all, there is a nurse or doctor on the call, asking you for a list of your loved one’s medications and you want to get this right! You know that their safety depends on you giving accurate information. Are you confident that you have this information?

The Right Technology for Caregivers

Caregivers need support in very many ways and this is an area where peace of mind is possible knowing that you have the right technology in your hands. What’s more, your loved one knows that he or she is safe, knowing that you have all their critical medication information, able to provide it whenever, and wherever necessary.

AVID/Hx from Diva Technologies answers this vital caregiver need. Irrespective of the distance between caregiver and loved one, in any situation or circumstance, the caregiver can send an accurate list of the loved one’s medications by fax or email, all at the touch of the button.
To be sure, this doesn’t address every concern and stress for caregivers but whether it is just checking in after a loved one’s visit to the doctor, seeing what medications have been discontinued, changed, or added, or in that frightening circumstance of an urgent care situation, the assurance that you can play your part in keeping your loved one safe is a peace of mind that money cannot buy.