Advice On Claiming Compensation For Illnesses Caused By Wrong Medication In A Care Home

Care home patients can be some of the most vulnerable in society. They have to rely, every day, on the assistance of staff within the care home. One of their key requirements is that they’re given their prescribed medication at the right time. If that doesn’t happen or they’re given the wrong medication in a care home, the patients ability to function and quality of life can suffer. Therefore, in this guide, we’re going to look at when claims could be made for a medication error in a care home. This guide is aimed at patients or family members who’d like to claim for suffering on their behalf.

Legal Helpline offer free advice about any form of medical negligence claim. Our advisors can provide a no obligation assessment of any claim. They’ll review the evidence and provide advice on your options. If the claim has strong grounds, they could introduce you to one of our panel of solicitors. Should they agree to handle your claim, it’ll be on a no win no fee basis. To contact us right away about your claim, please call 0161 696 9685.

Alternatively, to find out more about claiming for medicines-related incidents, please continue reading.

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A Guide On Claims When Given The Wrong Medication In A Care Home

When a patient enters a care home, they might have to rely on staff to help them wash, get dressed and take any medicines they’re prescribed. If the care home staff don’t support them properly, especially with medicines, the patient could become ill and unable to function properly. In these cases, if it can be shown that staff negligence caused the patient to suffer, then a compensation claim might be possible.

a nurse reviewing a medication list with a care home resident

Wrong medication in a care home

If you’re loved one has suffered because they were given the wrong medication in a care home, we could help you claim on their behalf. One thing you should bear in mind is the personal injury claims time limit. This is a 3-year period. In cases of medication errors, the time limit will usually begin from when the error was identified to you which could be some time after the event took place.

Throughout our guide, we’ll look at the types of errors that could lead to a claim, who might be liable and when compensation could be paid. We’ll also look at the amounts of compensation that might be awarded.

It may be possible to make a claim on behalf of a loved one if they’re unable to do so themselves. This involves a legal process where you become their ‘litigation friend’. Our advisors can provide further information on the process of claiming on this basis.

When you’ve finished reading this guide, please contact an advisor for free advice. We understand how distressing this type of claim can be and will work with you sympathetically and at a pace that suits you.

What Are Wrong Medication Negligence Errors?

A medication error is defined as an error with prescribing, preparing, dispensing, administering, monitoring or providing advice regarding the medicine. In terms of medical negligence claims, the error needs to have caused some form of adverse effect to the patient.

This means, to be eligible to make a claim, you need to show that:

  • Somebody who owed you (or your loved one) a duty of care;
  • Was negligent; and
  • That negligence caused suffering.

All care homes should have procedures for reporting medication errors which we’ll look at later in this guide.

If you believe that your loved one has suffered a medication error in a care home, caused by the negligence of staff, please get in touch to discuss your options. We can assess the claim on a no obligation basis and provide free legal advice as well.

Effects Of Medicine Related Incidents In Care Homes

It is possible for care home patients to receive multiple different medicines every day. Their doctor will have checked carefully that the medicines were suitable and that they didn’t react adversely with each other. They’d also have checked the patient was not allergic to any of the medicines.

Therefore, it’s really important that the correct medication is given to the right patient at the right time of day. Failure to do so could cause patient to suffer serious side effects. These could include fevers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and even organ failure. In very serious mistakes, an allergic reaction could be caused which could prove fatal.

Care Home And Staff Duty Of Care

All care workers have a duty of care to act in the best interest of patients, work in a way which avoids harm to the patient and not perform any tasks which are outside their competency level.

When the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspect a care home, they review the safety, the effectiveness, the levels of caring, the responsiveness to patient needs and whether it’s well led. If the CQC says a care home is outstanding, it will achieve highly in all of these areas of inspection.

If a loved one moves into a care home, the staff and management have a duty of care to try and ensure their safety and well being wherever possible.

Reasons Why People Move Into Care Homes

People might need to move into a care home when:

  • They’re struggling with daily activities while living alone. This could be the case even if they’re receiving help from family or carers.
  • A needs assessment from the local social services has suggested a care home.
  • A complex medical condition requires specialist care day and night.

There are two main types of care home available. Residential homes provide help with everyday tasks like getting dressed, going to the toilet, washing and taking medicines. Nursing homes, however, provide the same support but also have at least one or more qualified nurses available to provide additional care.

Causes Of Drug And Medication Errors In Care Homes

There are many potential reasons that a patient could be given the wrong medication in a care home. These include:

  • Mistakes made because of high workload.
  • Errors caused by interruptions while performing the drug-round.
  • Doctor’s making mistakes because they weren’t provided with the patient’s entire medical history.
  • Lack of communication between the pharmacy, GP and care home.
  • Using verbal communication, rather than written, when discussing medicines.

Also, some over the counter medicines can react badly with prescription medicines. Therefore, if such as medicine is given without first checking with a GP, suffering could be caused.

While most medication errors in nursing aren’t caused deliberately, if your loved one suffers as a result of medicine related incidents, you could make a claim on their behalf. To discuss whether your concerns are valid and could lead to a claim, please get in touch with an advisor today.

Handling Of Errors In Medication In Care Homes

All care homes have to have systems for reporting adverse drug reactions, errors, incidents and near misses. The CQC’s essential standards require them to:

  • Seek immediate medical attention if a patient is unwell as a result of a medication error.
  • Report specific incidents to the CQC (see the next section for more detail).
  • Have a medication policy which should include how to deal with medication errors, incidents and near misses.
  • Ensure staff know the difference between a near miss and a medication error.
  • Make sure staff report any medication error to the duty manager. This should include what happened, what steps were taken to rectify the situation and the steps that have been taken to try and ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
  • Inform residents, and their relatives, of any medication incident or error.
  • Regularly investigate and review medication errors.
  • Meet with staff regularly to review errors and to inform them of the outcome of any investigation.
  • Inform GPs or pharmacies of any mistake that was caused by the prescribing process.

A near miss is classed as an incident or adverse event that was averted. It is important that these are included in any reporting and investigations.

Reporting Care Home Negligence TO The Care Quality Commission

The care home use of medicines study (CHUMS) from 2009, reported that “on any given day, seven out of ten residents were subject to at least one form of medication error”.

As a result, the CQC provides extensive guidance to care homes on dealing with medication errors. They also require that in some cases, the CQC should be notified about medication errors.

In general, medication errors need to be recorded locally and reported to duty managers. However, any medication error that causes the following must be reported to the CQC:

  • Errors leading to death.
  • Mistakes that cause injury.
  • Any form of abuse (or where there’s an allegation of abuse).
  • Incidents which are being investigated, or have been reported, to the police.

An NHS Examination Of Wrong Medication Mistakes In Care Homes

In this section, we’re going to look at a report, from the NHS, that provides evidence of drug errors in care homes.

The study covered 55 care homes in England and reviewed the cases of 256 patients.

It was identified that nearly 70% of the patients were given the wrong medication in a care home on at least one occasion. Although the study showed the potential harm from the mistake was low (an average score of 2.6 out of 10), the study reported that many of those mistakes would’ve reduced the patient’s quality of life.

During the study, patients and staff were interviewed to try and determine the reason for the mistakes. Staff identified the following reasons:

  • Poor teamwork between the care home, pharmacy and GP.
  • Inadequate ordering systems.
  • Inaccessible doctors who weren’t familiar with the residents.
  • High workload for care home staff.
  • Lack of medicines training.
  • Being interrupted while carrying out the drug round.
  • Poor medicine records.
  • Admin systems that were difficult to use.


Calculating Compensation If Given The Wrong Medication In A Care Home

If you’re trying to decide whether to make a wrong medicine claim, you might be wondering how much compensation could be paid. In the personal injury claims calculator table below, we’ve included some example amounts. The figures are taken from a legal guide called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). The JCG is a document that courts, solicitors and insurance companies use to determine the correct level of compensation.

Claim TypeAmount (Range)Details
Illness (Non-traumatic injury)£36,060 to £49,270Cases where incorrect medication results in side effects including acute pain caused by severe toxicosis , diarrhoea and fever. Hospitalisation will be required for a few weeks and the enjoyment of life will suffer significantly.
Illness (Non-traumatic injury)£8,950 to £18,020Cases where incorrect medication results in diarrhoea and vomiting which reduce over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. Bowel function and the enjoyment of food could be affected for a few years.
Illness (Non-traumatic injury)£3,710 to £8,950Cases where incorrect medication results in fatigue, stomach cramps, and some significant discomfort. Hospitalisation be required for some days and initial symptoms won't last for more than a few weeks. The complete recovery could take about a year or two
Illness (Non-traumatic injury)£860 to £3,710Cases where incorrect medication results in disabling pain, stomach cramps and diarrhoea and will last for a few weeks at most.

It’s important that your personal injury solicitor proves exactly what suffering was caused when making a care home negligence claim. That’s because the figures in the JCG are based on the severity of any injury or illness. Therefore, having a specialist solicitor on your side, who understands what medical evidence is required, could help ensure you receive the right level of compensation. Bear in mind that the figures in the table make up just one part of the claim. We’ll look at what else could be included in the next section.

Medical, Care And Other Costs Which May Be Claimed

So, when making a personal injury claim, your solicitor can claim for general damages and special damages. General damages compensation is for the pain and suffering caused when you, or your loved one, were given the wrong medicine in a care home. It covers physical injuries and illnesses.

Special damages however are paid to cover financial losses linked to your suffering. There are a number of different special damages that could be included, these include:

  • Medical Expenses.
    If you incur any fees for prescriptions, over the counter treatments or other treatments, then you could include these costs within your claim.
  • Care Costs.
    When recovering from care home clinical negligence, if you require the assistance of a carer, then you could include any associated costs. For instance, the fees of a professional carer could be claimed back. Also, if a friend cared for you, then their time might be compensated.
  • Travelling Costs.
    When you have to visit a GP or hospital while recovering, the cost of fuel or car park charges can soon add up. Therefore, you could include these costs. Also, in the case of negligence in nursing home care, you might be able to claim for the costs involved with relocating to a new care home.
  • Lost Income.
    This item is included for reference as it’s unlikely a care home patient would lose any earnings. However, in personal injury claims, it is possible to include the cost of lost earnings caused by your injury or illness.

When claiming for special damages, we advise that you should keep hold of receipts and any other evidence to prove your expenditure. If you’re not sure whether an expense, particularly large ones, can be claimed back, check with your solicitor first. Also, you could keep a diary of spending to aid your solicitor.

No Win No Fee Wrong Medication Claims Against Care Homes

When you decide to claim for care home malpractice, one of the most common worries is how much you’ll pay in legal fees. That’s why our panel of solicitors offer a no win no fee service for any claim they take on. From our experience, more people decide to claim when their financial risk is reduced by a no win no fee option.

So, the claims process begins with a review of your case. If the solicitor agrees the claim has a chance of being won, they’ll prepare a conditional fee agreement (CFA) for you. This is the contract between you and your solicitor. Amongst other information within the CFA, you’ll find two key pieces of information:

  • The success fee that’s payable when the case is won.
  • A statement confirming that no solicitor’s fees are paid if the case is lost.

The success fee is calculated as a percentage of your compensation. To save you having to send the funds to cover the success fee, the solicitor deducts it from the compensation before it’s paid to you. This is another way in which no win no fee reduces the stress involved with claiming.

To find out if you could make a no win no fee claim, please get in touch today.

How Legal Helpline Could Help You

We hope that the information within this guide has shown that we know a lot about the process of claiming for care home negligence. We’d love to help you begin your claim. Here are some reasons why we believe you should choose Legal Helpline:

  • Our advisors are friendly and specialise in personal injury claims. They’ll provide free advice and a no obligation assessment of your claim.
  • The Legal Helpline claims team can be contacted 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
  • We use a panel of solicitors who:
    • Have many years’ experience in making personal injury claims.
    • Work as efficiently as possible so your claim doesn’t drag on.
    • Try hard to ensure you receive the right level of compensation.
    • Provide regular updates throughout your claim.

Please get in touch if you’d like more information about how we could help you claim against a negligent care home.

Start Your Claim Against A Care Home

You’ve now come to the end of this guide covering claims for suffering caused by the wrong medication in a nursing home. If you have found this guide useful, why not get in contact with us to see if you could begin a claim? Here are the best ways to get in touch:

Once you start the claims process by contacting us, we’ll begin by offering a no obligation assessment of your claim. We’ll listen to what happened and review your evidence. Also, we’ll offer free legal advice about anything else you need to do. Then, if your claim has a chance of being won, we could put you in touch with one of our panel of personal injury solicitors. After they’ve looked at your claim, if they agree to take it on, it’ll be on a no win no fee basis. There’s nothing to lose by calling and you won’t be put under pressure.

Additional References

Thanks for reading our guide about claiming compensation for suffering caused by the wrong medication in a care home. To provide further assistance, we’ve linked to some more of our guides that you might find helpful. We’ve also linked to some external resources as well.

Pressure Sore Claims – A common claim for care home negligence is for pressure sores or bed sores. This guide explains the claims process.

Slip, Trip Or Fall Claims – Information on when you could use a personal injury lawyer to claim for injuries caused by a fall.

Elbow Injury Claims – This guide covers claims for elbow injuries which could occur in an accident caused by care home errors.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) – The CQC monitor, inspect and rate care services in the UK.

Care Home Health And Safety – Information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that could be used to avoid care home errors that lead to injuries.

Care Home Information – This guide, from the charity Age UK, provides information about finding and choosing a care home.

Article by Brett