Combating the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in California Nursing Homes

In 2007, Dr. David Graham, a drug safety expert with the FDA, testified before Congress and stated that approximately 15,000 people die each year in U.S. nursing homes from the off-label use of anti-psychotic drugs. Off-label use is the use of the drug for a condition it was not intended. In California, it has been estimated that up to 60% of all nursing home residents are given psychoactive drugs, which is an increase of 30% in only 10 years. It’s no wonder that when we think about nursing homes, we think of isolated elderly people sitting hunched over in wheelchairs, or in bed, segregated from the world. That life is a sad realty for many.

To combat the misuse of psychoactive drugs, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform have released a publication called Toxic Medicine – What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in California Nursing Homes. The 20-page booklet provides an overview of what psychoactive drugs are, their purposes, the risks associated with them, and an overview of the resident’s rights.

Primary among those rights is the requirement of consent. Before a psychoactive drug can be used, a physician must inform the resident (or his/her decision-maker) about the drug, why it is being recommended, and the risks associated with it, and then must obtain consent before prescribing it. The guide also provides a list of questions that should be asked of a doctor who is recommending a psychoactive drug, and what to do if it is suspected that the drugs are being used without proper authority.

The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform is a San Francisco based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of long-term care patients since 1983.

A .pdf of the Toxic Medicine booklet can be found by clicking here.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults who have been abused or neglected in the nursing home and assisted living setting. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential consultation.

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