Nursing home residents ‘are being overdosed on medications’

Date: Aug 30, 2017

Underqualified nursing home workers routinely administer the wrong dosage of medications to residents, according to regulators and health professionals.

The revelations came as experts testified to a Senate inquiry, claiming that Australian aged care facilities regularly provide substandard levels of care to elderly people.

Medication mismanagement 'widespread'

Federal Aged Care Complaints Commissioner Rae Lamb said poor medication administration and management led to 589 complaints to her department last year.

According to the Advertiser, the grievances included staff:

  • Giving people the wrong drugs or doses;
  • Failing to administer medications at the right time or at all; and
  • Delivering medications using the wrong methods or techniques.

"Complaints show there can be inconsistency in the skill levels of staff who administer medicine in aged care facilities," Ms Lamb explained.

"The risks seem particularly high in relation to administration of high-risk medicines and 'as required' medicines. In these cases, an understanding of the pharmacological impact on a person is essential to safe administration and evaluation of the medicine's effects."

Nursing home residents who suffer injuries or illnesses due to medication errors may be entitled to compensation via medical negligence claims.

People who suspect that themselves or a loved one have been the victim of malpractice should contact a specialist personal injury lawyer to discuss legal proceedings.

Inquiry faces conflict of interest crisis

The Senate inquiry was launched in the wake of the Oakden nursing home scandal, which saw reports of systemic elder abuse and poor clinical care at Adelaide's state-run facility.

Oakden has since closed down, but politicians are investigating how the facility received top marks from an aged care accreditation agency for nearly 10 years despite its obvious problems.

However, the inquiry itself has come under fire, after it was revealed ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell would be heading the review. Ms Carnell was a director of the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency that approved the Oakden facility.

Lynda Saltarelli of Aged Care in Crisis told ABC News in August that Ms Carnell's appointment was a blatant conflict of interest.

"We are very concerned … it's a bit like reviewing your old workplace," she stated.

Earlier this year, Aged Care in Crisis said a report highlighting the Oakden scandal was reminiscent of Groundhog Day. The organisation criticised repeated failings in the system, including staffing problems, poor regulatory oversight and flawed accreditation processes.

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