You may know warfarin by its brand names, Coumadin® and Jantoven®.It is common for nursing home patients to be prescribed a variety of medications to treat their conditions. For those on medication, it  is essential to have appropriate care and attention when administering and using them in order to maintain the patient's safety and health. Unfortunately, that does not always happen and the consequences can be fatal. The improper administration of one drug, in particular, has caught the eye of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The agency has requested extra attention by health inspectors on the use of the blood thinner Coumadin, as well as its generic counterpart warfarin. 

Improper Use of Coumadin in Nursing Homes

You may know warfarin by its brand names, Coumadin® and Jantoven®. It is important for nursing home staff to closely monitor patients' Coumadin levels and educate patients and their families on the potential risks and benefits of Coumadin use. Based on a report by ProPublica and the Washington Post, the CMS determined that the serious adverse effects that Coumadin can have for patients when improperly administered warrant increased scrutiny by health inspectors. In an analysis of government inspection reports, the study found that between 2011 and 2014, 165 patients in nursing homes were hospitalized or died after errors in Coumadin use. For example:

  • If given too much of the medication, internal bleeding can occur.
  • If given too little, blood clots and strokes can happen.

Some risks associated with the drug include cognitive impairment, interaction with other medications, and an increased risk for bleeding. To prevent serious complications, regular monitoring of Coumadin levels is crucial to ensure patients receive the appropriate dose. However, nursing homes may face challenges in monitoring patients' Coumadin levels due to staffing shortages, limited resources, or other factors.

Other studies have also highlighted the risks associated with Coumadin and other anticoagulants. A 2007 study published in The American Journal of Medicine estimated that there are about 34,000 fatal or life-threatening events every year that are caused by the drug. This leads many to believe that there has not been enough attention placed on this dangerous drug. Approximately one in six of the nation’s 1.3 million nursing home residents are prescribed an anticoagulant. The majority of whom are believed to be on Coumadin or warfarin.

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from improper use of medication, contact our nursing home abuse lawyers for a free consultation.

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