A Manitoba woman is calling for more safeguards after a home care worker erroneously mixed up her parents' medication, sending her mother to hospital as a result.
Mary Jane Lawrence of Brandon, Man., says a home care worker gave her 86-year-old mother medication on Wednesday that was meant for Lawrence's father.
"She started to have dizziness and nausea, vomiting," Lawrence told CBC News.
"I frantically was trying to think of what's in his supper pills that she shouldn't have had."
The drugs her mother received by mistake included a prostate drug, a drug for Alzheimer's disease, and a sedative.
Lawrence said her mother was rushed to hospital and is now recovering at home. Doctors have said she will be OK.
Not the first time
However, it's not the first time her parents have experienced an accidental medication mix-up.
She said a year ago, her 87-year-old father went to the hospital after he was given his wife's cancer and diabetes medication.
Home care at Prairie Health
The Prairie Mountain Health Authority says more than 1,000 across the region uses home care services, many of whom are visited by workers multiple times a day or week.
Home care staff are required to have a Grade 12 education and must complete a modular course, or a 10-month in-class course, followed by on-the-job training before they see clients.
"I wonder how often it does happen," Lawrence said.
The Prairie Mountain Health Authority says in 2013, 517 home-care incidents were reported, 247 of which were medication-related.
"Possibly there's more training needed, possibly it's one of our process issues that we need to iron out," said Penny Gilson, the health authority's chief executive officer.
Gilson said the types of medication errors are wide-ranging, "[from] a staff member that didn't sign that they had assisted in giving the medication, to the wrong medication, wrong client."
The Prairie Mountain Health Authority investigates all incidents, said Gilson, who added that reported incidents are used to guide change and make improvements.
Family not blaming home care
Lawrence said she and her parents do not blame the home care workers, and they still have confidence in the service.
At the same time, she said they want more safeguards in place to prevent human error.
Such safeguards could include colour-coding medication blister packages or making changes to procedures, she said.
"I don't want people to feel like we're accusing home care of being incompetent and all those things because they've been wonderful," Lawrence said.
"But I still don't want to lose my parents to a mistake."