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Misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes

It is never easy making major decisions for our aging loved ones. However, placing an elderly family member in a nursing home is frequently done, as it is difficult to care for him or her on your own. These facilities have the resources needed to care for the elderly, addressing any medical concerns and needs. Nevertheless, some nursing homes overstep their bounds, making medical decisions that could have dire consequences on an elderly resident.

The use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is well known. These drugs are commonly used because of their sedative effect versus the actual use of these drugs. Thus, recipients of this drug do not obtain much if any benefits from being given these drugs. Because of this, advocacy groups have highlighted this concern, arguing that the misuse of these drugs should stop.

The percentage of long-term nursing home residents given this drug was around 24 percent in 2011. Last year, this percentage dropped to 16 percent, with the biggest decreases in Tennessee, California and Arkansas. Despite this decrease, there is still a growing concern that nursing home residents are given other drugs that have the same ability to sedate residents without drawing in the same level of scrutiny that antipsychotics do.

In the books, nursing home residents have legal protection of their rights while they are cared for at these facilities. Unfortunately, the enforcement of these rights is often lacking. Some incidents go unreported while others fail to investigate these matters. This often leaves nursing home patients being prescribed and administered drugs they do not need or in an amount they do not need. This does not only constitute forms of nursing home abuse and negligence but also opens up the possibility for medical malpractice.

No one wants to see a loved one suffer because the negligence of medical practitioners or nursing home facilities. Thus, if you suspect that an elderly loved one is not being cared for adequately, it is imperative to fully understand the situation, becoming aware of your rights and steps you can take to assert a medical malpractice action.

Source: The Daily Journal, "New report details misuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes," David Cary, Feb. 12, 2018

Tags: Medical Malpractice

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