Fatal Consequences of Nursing Home Medication Errors -- Diabetes Medication Mistakes

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According to the American Diabetes Association, 8% of the United States population (or 23.6 million Americans) have been diagnosed with diabetes.  The prevalence of the diagnosis of diabetes has increased 13.5% from 2005 through 2007.  This disease often affects elderly nursing home residents and requires careful monitoring of blood sugar and careful administration of insulin or other medications in order to prevent serious complications of the disease including kidney failure, hypoglycemia (also known as insulin shock), amputations of legs or feet, heart attacks, blindness and even death.

Diabetes is a chronic, life long disease involving abnormalities in the body's ability to use sugar and is characterized high levels of sugar in the blood.

Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) often affects children and others whose bodies do not produce enough insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is generated by the pancreas and controls blood sugar.  These individuals require daily insulin injections to lower their blood sugar.  There are several different types of insulin that differ based on various factors including onset, peak and duration.

Type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) is a more common, rapidly increasing condition in this County under which the body does not properly respond to insulin.  This form of the disease can result from lifestyle issues including obesity/weight issues, diet, lack of exercise and high blood pressure.  Some people with type 2 diabetes may not even know it because the condition may not produce any symptoms.  Certain types of food that are high in sugar (cake, chocolate, candy) can trigger and compound the problems of type 2 diabetes.  The treatment used for type 2 diabetes depends upon the physiological defects experienced by the individual and may include pill(s) instead of or along with insulin injections.  There are many different types of medications that may be used in combination, requiring careful monitoring and oversight.

The good news is that with proper treatment and medical oversight, blood sugar can be kept at the proper levels to prevent or significantly delay the harsh, potentially life-threatening complications of this treatable disease.  Nursing home patients, however, are often totally dependent upon the nursing home staff to perform this care and treatment as a result of cognitive and physical disabilities.     

Sadly, we have seen too many situations where preventable, serious injury and death has resulted from a nursing home's failure to follow diabetes medication protocols in residents with type 2 diabetes.

One scenario that can be especially dangerous involves patients who require nursing home care following cardiac surgery.  These patients may require insulin therapy and medications such as Glyburide (a drug that lowers blood sugar) in order to tightly control blood sugar in the post-operative period.  The nursing home may be responsible for weaning the patient off insulin therapy as they simultaneously increase the dose of Glyburide to effective levels.  The failure of the nursing home staff to perform these functions properly can prove fatal.  For instance, the nursing home staff's failure to reduce the insulin therapy may result in drug-induced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Unless timely recognized and treated, severe hypoglycemia can lead to generalized convulsions followed by amnesia, unconsciousness and, ultimately, death.  Such complications are entirely avoidable so long as the nursing home staff follows the physician orders and carefully monitors the patient's condition and blood sugar levels.

Please feel free to contact the attorneys at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury as a result of a nursing home medication error, bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), dehydration, falls or elderly abuse or neglect.  

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This page contains a single entry by David Feldstein published on August 3, 2009 12:55 PM.

Identifying and Suing the Correct Corporate Entities in Nursing Home Neglect Cases was the previous entry in this blog.

Nursing Home Falls -- Hip Fractures Can Be Deadly is the next entry in this blog.

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