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Jun 29, 2022 by |

San Francisco Nursing Home Abuse Attorney: Dangers of Overmedication Of Nursing Home Residents

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Why Nursing Homes Overmedicate

Dangers of Overmedicating

Laws Regulating Medications In Facilities

Study results indicate that nursing homes may resort to overmedication to make it easier to manage residents. One report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) revealed that skilled nursing facilities may disregard federal regulations when it comes to administering antipsychotic drugs, typically prescribed to individuals with schizophrenia.  These drugs, however, can be lethal for those with dementia. Despite the increased risk of death associated with antipsychotic drugs, some nursing homes may choose profit over the welfare of residents.   At times, understaffing or inadequate training is the underlying factor in overmedicating in nursing homes. Caregivers are more prone to making errors when they feel overworked due to staff shortage, and they may unintentionally administer medication excessively. Staff members may also use tranquilizers, antipsychotics, and other drugs on purpose to sedate uncooperative, aggressive, or emotional residents. Improper use of medications is a form of physical elder abuse.  Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.63((f) (physical abuse includes “[u]se of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication” under certain circumstances). If you or someone you know is a victim of nursing home abuse, call the attorneys at Evans Law Firm today at 415-441-8669. Our toll free number is 1-888-50EVANS.

Dangers of Overmedicating

Skilled nursing facilities often depend on sedatives, pain relievers, and psychoactive drugs to restrain or pacify residents. Caregivers who do not use medications for their intended purposes can put patients in harm’s way. Some of the side effects that nursing home residents may experience from the drugs include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Overdose
  • Falls, fractures, and other injuries following overmedication
  • Death

Also, when facilities give antipsychotic drugs to patients without severe mental illness and who have dementia, they may later develop other issues. These could include anxiety, confusion, agitation, and disorientation. Moreover, a senior may soon become withdrawn, fatigued, fearful, and overall seem diminished.

Laws Regulating Medication in Facilities

In addition to the illegal use of medications as chemical restraints under Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.63(f) there are federal laws prohibiting improper use of medications. To address the issue of chemical restraint or use of psychoactive drugs for convenience or to control a resident’s behavior, the government created a federal law for long-term care facilities (§ 482.104) that prohibits the unnecessary administration of such medications. Nevertheless, this has not stopped incidents of overmedicating in nursing homes, usually because of lax enforcement of the rules. There are still facilities that engage in unlawful practices and continue to violate federal regulations regarding drug use.

The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) (NHRA) also seeks to improve the quality of life for residents, protect them from abuse and neglect, and define their legal rights. Generally, the NHRA also forbids nursing homes from taking part in antipsychotic drug practices. The facility may administer antipsychotic drugs only when a physician orders it as part of the resident’s plan of care, and if an external, independent consultant periodically reviews the suitability of the plan.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one been the victim of nursing home abuse in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, contact Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our toll free number is 1-888-50EVANS. 

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