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RNs better than LPNs in nursing home medication reconciliation

Registered nurses may be better prepared than licensed practical nurses to perform medication reconciliation in nursing homes, according to a 2015 study. The findings could help improve nursing home patient safety in Montana and nationwide.

For the study, researchers at the University of Missouri observed 32 RNs and 70 LPNs working in 12 skilled nursing facilities in that state. They found that RNs are more likely than LPNs to identify potential high-risk adverse drug events when conducting a common safety measure known as medication reconciliation. The procedure involves a health care professional reviewing a patient's medications to find possible drug discrepancies.

The study noted data showing that 37 percent of adverse patient events in nursing homes, including falls and bleeding, are linked to the use of medication. Of those adverse events, 66 percent could be preventable through proper dosing and monitoring by medical staff. According to the authors of the study, both RNs and LPNs make positive contributions to nursing home care, but it may be necessary for nursing homes to better differentiate between the responsibilities placed on each of them. They also said their research could lead to better training and education for both RNs and LPNs, which could improve the care that nursing home patients receive.

Nursing home neglect is a top cause of patient harm in the United States. When a preventable adverse drug event causes injury or illness to a nursing home patient, it may be advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care staff and/or nursing home facility responsible for the event. Medical malpractice victims could learn more about their legal rights by speaking to an attorney about their case.

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