Polypharmacy occurs when a patient is taking multiple medications for the same condition, taking different medications for more than one condition, or taking more medications than is medically necessary. While there is no clear consensus on how many medications in any given situation constitute polypharmacy, it is clear that in an aging population, polypharmacy is quite common. In fact, some studies show that almost 50% of nursing home residents are potentially overmedicated for their medical conditions.
Nursing home residents can suffer significantly as a result of polypharmacy. The consequences of polypharmacy may include drug interactions, adverse drug events, and falls, all of which can result in hospitalization and even death. Polypharmacy also can cause older individuals becoming non-ambulatory, cognitively impaired, incontinent, and malnourished. Eliminating polypharmacy, however, can improve patient outcomes and the quality of care in a nursing facility.
There are a number of steps that nursing homes can take in order to eliminate polypharmacy. First, nursing staff can help improve the situation simply by being aware of the signs and symptoms of adverse drug events. Pharmacists also can prevent polypharmacy by reviewing residents’ medical records and recommending medication changes, reductions, and discontinuations as needed. Physicians, in turn, should consider and respond to these recommendations.
As this post illustrates, polypharmacy can have an extremely negative effect on nursing home residents, to the point of injuries or even death. When staff members of nursing homes neglect their duties, thus causing harm to you or a loved one, you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against the staff and facility who failed to properly do their jobs. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you should definitely contact an experienced Wisconsin elder abuse attorney at Boller & Vaughn today. We know how to protect your rights and potentially get compensation for any injuries that occurred. Nursing homes have a duty to protect their residents and ensure that they receive the appropriate level of care, including avoiding medication interactions and polypharmacy. When staff members fail to meet that duty, it is up to you to hold negligent Wisconsin nursing care facilities responsible for their actions. Call Boller & Vaughan today and see what assistance we can offer you and your family.