Q. I have been a critical care nurse for more than 30 years and recently started monitoring assisted living facilities for the state. Most medication errors are made by their medication technicians. These employees may have completed only four hours of training. Assisted living residents themselves are often not capable of identifying their medications because they have dementia, schizophrenia or depression.
Physicians and nurse practitioners prescribe the drugs, with some residents taking ten to fifteen pills at one time in the morning. Most of us couldn’t tolerate so many drugs without side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation.
If a sedative or a psychotropic drug is added, it increases the risk of falling. Then the patient may be hospitalized with a fractured hip or head injury. There should be better monitoring of such facilities.
A. We share your concerns. Training requirements for medication techs vary from state to state. Many older people in assisted living facilities cannot protect themselves from overmedication. Family and friends need to be vigilant to prevent the kinds of accidents you have described.