New York Nursing Home Fined 50k for Medication Error

The federal government fined a Buffalo nursing home $47,827 for erroneously administering insulin to a resident. According to The Buffalo News, the fine against Humboldt House represents the sixth largest in New York for 2018. The newspaper reports that a physician at the nursing home administered insulin to a diabetic resident in February 2018 despite a hospital discharge report warning the nursing home staff to “PLEASE AVOID GIVING THIS PATIENT INSULIN” – in all capital letters.

The nursing home resident, who was not named by the newspaper, was found unresponsive multiple times over the next few days. After reviving the elderly woman with medication and fruit juice, the nursing home finally realized its mistake. Federal officials determined this medication error caused “actual harm” to a patient, the most serious type of violation for a nursing home.

When determining fault, the federal agency concluded there was plenty of blame to go around. Unfortunately, the blamed parties appear to agree with the federal government’s assessment of everyone else’s incompetence but their own. Before administering the insulin to the elderly diabetic resident, the medication was signed off by the nursing home’s medical director and a physician. The medical director blamed the physician for the dangerous mishap, telling the Health Department, “The doctor should have looked at the discharge summary. It is expected the doctors read the discharge summary.” The doctor also attempted to absolve himself of responsibility by blaming the nurse, stating “I do not know why the insulin was ordered if the discharge summary had to stop it. The nurse must have misread the orders to me.”

Humboldt House says it “disciplined” both the doctor and nurse involved in the incident. To prevent this problem in the future, the nursing home says it implemented training for nursing staff to better monitor diabetic patients. Further, the New York nursing home says its facility is “in substantial compliance with all regulatory requirements,” which is a fairly low bar to set. The newspaper notes that Humboldt House is rated a “one-star nursing home” by the federal government – the lowest score possible.

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