Study shows RNs improve drug safety at nursing homes

Nursing home residents in Arizona are often prescribed multiple medications. For patient safety, it is critical that nursing home workers review the medications that patients are taking in order to prevent adverse drug events. This review process, referred to as medication reconciliation, may be done best by a registered nurse.

A study released on Dec. 14 by researchers at the University of Missouri found that RNs are better at medication reconciliation than licensed practical nurses. Researchers believe that fewer adverse drug events will occur at nursing homes where RNs are placed in charge of medication reconciliation because they are better at identifying dangerous medication errors. Earlier studies have shown that LPNs are more task-oriented while RNs are more focused on patient safety and comprehensive assessment.

Researchers conducted the study by reviewing data from 12 different nursing homes in Missouri of 70 LPNs and 32 RNs. According to the study, RNs tend to have a positive effect on nursing home patient safety, but many nursing homes do not have enough RNs on their staff. Researchers wrote that among the adverse events that occur at nursing homes, 37 percent are tied to medication use, and 66 percent of those adverse events could have been prevented with better drug prescribing methods and monitoring.

If a nursing home patient suffers from an adverse drug event, the patient’s family members may decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home and the nursing home staff members who were responsible for the patient’s care. Plaintiffs in a medical malpractice claim may pursue financial compensation for things like pain and suffering and added medical expenses.