Study Shows Nurse Practitioners Help Reduce Medical Errors

Connecticut nursing home residents sometimes have to go to the hospital. When they are discharged and return to the nursing home, it is common for medical mistakes to be made. A study shows that having a nurse practitioner visit with such patients within the first 48 hours that they are back in the nursing home may reduce medical errors.

In the study, nurse practitioners visited with patients in 515 nursing homes within 48 hours of their release from hospital stays. In more than half of the visits, the nurse practitioners identified care issues that they had to address. They found that 29 percent of the errors were caused by the discharging hospitals, 33 percent were caused by the nursing homes, and 32 percent were caused by doctors at the nursing homes.

The nurse practitioners and researchers found that 25 percent of medication errors were made with pain medications. Thirty percent of the non-medication problems that they identified were issues with follow-up care. The research was the first part of a larger study, and the researchers found that the nurse practitioners reduced hospitalizations caused by external factors by 21 percent.

In many cases, medication errors result from poor communication between the nursing home staff, the hospitals and the treating physicians. People might want to bring lists of all of their medications that they are taking along with them to the hospital. They might want to ask why medications are changed or why new ones are prescribed. They may want to ask the discharge staff at the hospital to write out a list of their current medications and dosages as well as clear reasons about why any were changed or discontinued. People who have been harmed by medication mistakes might want to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn what recourse they may have.