Reports claim overmedication is major nursing home problem

Medications that are properly and professionally administered can be an important part of care for nursing home residents. However, their misuse may constitute nursing home neglect and abuse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has data which indicates that the administration of powerful antipsychotic drugs to elderly patients has been significantly reduced. But, overmedication remains a major problem and pressure against this practice should continue. One expert argued that, although this decrease was dramatic, other medications are being substituted that sedate patients into passivity that are not as obvious as antipsychotics.

The Human Rights Watch issued another report recently finding that enforcement of patient legal protections by federal and state authorities is insufficient. It also analyzed government data and said that approximately 179,000 residents in nursing homes receive antipsychotics each week without having a diagnosed condition for which the drugs are approved. Further, it concluded that nursing homes violate government regulations by administering antipsychotic drugs without receiving consent from residents or their relatives.

The U.S, Department of Health and Human Services reported 10 years ago that 270,000 nursing home residents afflicted with dementia were administered antipsychotic drugs even though these medications were not approved to treat that condition. These types of drugs were intended for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses.

Nursing home residents and their families may need to take legal action to assure proper treatment and compliance with federal and state laws. An attorney can help assure that their rights and well-being are protected and that compensation may be sought for nursing home negligence or for treatment that is below the reasonable standard of care.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "New report details misuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes," David Crary, Feb. 8, 2018

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