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Jan 7, 2015 by |

Elder Abuse: Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes


There is great concern about increased antipsychotic use on the elderly, in nursing homes.
These powerful drugs were originally developed to treat major psychoses such as schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder, and are now FDA approved for the treatment of mild anxiety and insomnia.

Elders who are prescribed these drugs are placed at an increased risk of heart failure, autoimmune diseases, and death. However, between 10 and 30 percent of long-stay residents in US nursing homes are currently receiving antipsychotic medication. Immediate side effects of atypical antipsychotic medications include dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, apathy, and extreme fatigue.

It is horrifying to acknowledge that elder’s experience such mental, and physical abuse. So why might nursing homes choose to medicate with antipsychotics? Convenience. By overmedicating or unnecessarily medicating residents suffering with dementia, and the often associated anxiety and aggression, elders are ultimately easier to deal with. They are docile, compliant, and essentially, drugged out. With intense side-effects, it is important to recognize the danger of taking such medications intended to treat severe psychosis for mild disorders, or worse, for the convenience of staff members.

While this type of unnecessary and manipulative drug use is completely illegal according to the federal law against chemical restraint, nursing homes are notoriously unmonitored by health officials and can often get away with procedures that are technically against the law. In good news, as these types of cases become more prevalent, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) will push nursing homes to cut unnecessary use of antipsychotic medication use by 25% by the end of 2015. The CMS will also incorporate a nursing home’s drug use into its public star rating system, which will hopefully allow us to make more informed decisions in selecting a proper nursing home.

If you or your elderly loved one has been wrongfully medicated, overmedicated, or medicated against will, contact Evans Law Firm, Inc. at 415-441-8669 or to speak with one of our leading attorneys on elder abuse. It is important to bring these cases into legal attention to spread public awareness, and keep our elders safe in nursing homes.

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