Overmedication has been a problem for years at nursing homes in San Bernardino County and throughout Southern California. Not only are many nursing home patients on too many drugs that can cause harmful interactions with one another, but many nursing home residents are currently taking antipsychotic medications that they may not need. Overmedication, or unnecessary rates of drugging, can have extremely harmful consequences and may lead to nursing home neglect cases. According to a recent article in The New York Times, more than 20 percent of nursing home residents across the country are currently taking antipsychotic drugs, and many of them may not actually need these medications.
What should you know about overmedication or over-drugging at nursing homes in Southern California and the connection to nursing home negligence?
Antipsychotic Drugs are Extremely Dangerous
The recent investigation conducted by The New York Times showed that at least 21%—and potentially more—of current nursing home residents are taking antipsychotic drugs. That figure does not even take into account the rate of nursing home residents who are simply being over-drugged with more medications than they may need. And antipsychotic drugs are notoriously dangerous. Indeed, as The New York Times points out, advocates for seniors have described these medications as “chemical straitjackets” and have pointed out how they are prescribed in an off-label use for nursing home residents with dementia.
When an elderly nursing home patient does not need an antipsychotic drug for the reasons that the medication was developed, the use of such drugs can have serious and life-threatening side effects. Indeed, these medications “Are dangerous for older people with dementia, nearly doubling their chance of death from heart problems, infections, falls, and other ailments.” Indeed, the article underscores that the “risks to patients treated with antipsychotics are so high that nursing homes must report to the government how many of their residents are on these potent medications.” At the same time, however, this information is not readily provided to the public. As such, when families are seeking out safe nursing homes for their loved ones, it can be especially difficult to assess the risk of overmedication or unnecessary administration of antipsychotic drugs.
Nursing Home Negligence and Uses of Antipsychotic Drugs
Why are these types of drugs prescribed and administered so often for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia? As the article notes, “understaffed nursing homes have often used the sedatives so they don’t have to hire more staff to handle residents.”
In some nursing homes, more patients are being diagnosed with schizophrenia—a condition for which antipsychotic medications are appropriate—in order to administer the drugs more readily. Yet as The New York Times investigation highlights, the rate of schizophrenia diagnoses appears too high to be accurate. To be sure, as many as 1 out of 9 residents at nursing homes are being diagnosed with schizophrenia, suggesting that these diagnoses are medically negligent and a way to legally administer antipsychotics to “difficult” patients suffering from dementia.
Seek Advice from a San Bernardino Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
If you have an elderly loved one who has suffered harm after using antipsychotic drugs, you may be able to find out more about filing a nursing home neglect lawsuit. One of our experienced San Bernardino nursing home abuse attorneys can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.
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