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RNs are better at spotting medication discrepancies

Nursing homes in Oklahoma and around the country generally assign registered nurses and licensed practical nurses the same kind of duties, but researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri believe that they should be given tasks to perform that are more in line with their training and areas of expertise. The UM study, which was published in December 2015, was based on a survey of 70 LPNs and 32 RNs working at a dozen nursing homes in Missouri.

The authors of the study pointed out that more than a third of the adverse events that take place in nursing homes around the country can be linked to medication errors. Adverse events include falls, hallucinations, delirium, bleeding and hypoglycemic episodes. The researchers say that almost two-thirds of these events could be prevented if medications were monitored and prescribed by more qualified staff.

Previous research work in this area has concluded that LPNs are more effective when assigned task-based duties while RNs are more proficient at assessment and evaluation. This would, according to the UM team, make RNs better able to identify potentially dangerous combinations of medications and catch errors before patients suffer adverse effects. However, the researchers observed that many nursing homes do not employ enough RNs to implement such policies effectively.

Many medical professional negligence lawsuits are filed against physicians who have failed to diagnose serious diseases or provided their patients with inadequate care, but plaintiffs’ attorneys with experience in this area may also initiate this kind of litigation against hospitals or clinics in certain situations. Medical facilities may face malpractice lawsuits when their failure to employ sufficient numbers of registered nurses or doctors led to mistakes because important tasks were left to less qualified individuals. Hospitals could also be sued when patients suffer poor outcomes caused by poor scheduling, inadequate training or lax oversight.