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Improper use of anticoagulants in nursing homes

Nursing homes in Mississippi and the rest of the country routinely administer blood thinners, like Coumadin or Warfarin, improperly. The drugs are useful in stopping internal bleeding, but can be fatal if they are given to patients excessively or in insufficient doses.

The improper use of anticoagulants has not received as much attention as other forms of nursing home neglect, such as the failure to supervise patients or the failure to ensure that patients receive proper nutrition and personal care. This oversight is attributed to the fact that when the medications are used as they should, they are beneficial to patients and can extend their lives. However, many of the nursing patients who receive the medications suffer because their caregivers fail to administer the medications properly, or their physicians fail to consider the adverse impacts drug interactions can have.

. According to a study published in 2007, an estimated 34,000 people die every year due to errors related to Coumadin or Warfarin. In North Carolina, the data indicated that the anticoagulant was the drug most likely to be a part of a medication error. This is because the amount of the drug that required in the bloodstream in order to make it effective is very specific. In fact, if there is too much Coumadin present in a patient's blood, a bleed will occur, while not having enough of the drug in the blood can result in a stroke.

As is the case with other medical professionals, nursing home doctors and nurses are required to adhere to a reasonable standard of care when treating their resident patients. The family members of a resident who has been harmed by this type of medication error may want to meet with an attorney to discuss their options.

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