Overmedicating Nursing Home Residents

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some nursing homes do not use drugs in a manner that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There appears to be a significant problem, in particular, with antipsychotic drugs. While antipsychotics are typically for use in patients with severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder and dementia, nursing home care providers often use these drugs to treat patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or other form of dementia. This practice can result in serious side effects, such as agitation, confusion, and loss of memory.

All too often, antipsychotics and sedatives are used as chemical restraints to subdue or otherwise control the behavior of those who are labelled as “problem” patients. Individuals with dementia often fall into this category, due to their tendency to wander off, resist care efforts, and act in a physically or verbally abusive manner toward others. As a result, nursing homes, especially those with chronic shortages of workers or understaffing, may use drugs in an effort to better control the behavior of these types of patients.

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other agencies have made efforts to decrease the usage of antipsychotics in the nursing home setting, some estimate that over 300,000 nursing home residents are still receiving these drugs. Unfortunately, overuse of these drugs in elderly patients who do not need them creates a risk of death that is twice that of other types of patients. Specifically, these drugs can create cardiovascular problems and an increased risk of fatal infections in those elderly patients who take them.

Overmedication is only one of the many types of abuse or neglect that can occur in nursing home or residential care patients as a result of improper care by staff members. The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have handled countless claims on behalf of nursing home residents who have suffered serious injuries and even death due to the negligent behavior of nursing home staff and facilities, whether as a result of overmedication or another type of abuse or neglect. When a serious injury or death of a loved one occurs, we know just how devastating it can be, and how you powerless you feel as a result. Allow your family to begin the healing process from this traumatic event by holding the wrongdoers responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact our office today and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys.