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Antipsychotic Medicine Overprescribed in Many Nursing Homes

Posted on in Nursing Home Abuse

Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersStaff at a nursing home have a responsibility to keep the residents of a nursing home safe and as comfortable as possible. When families place a loved one in a nursing home, they are assuming that the medical staff there will treat the new resident with appropriate medical care. Tragically, this is not always the case. Some nursing homes are understaffed or their staff is not adequately trained, which can result in medicine being given superfluously or necessary medicine being withheld.

Alarming Study Results 

According to a recent study conducted by the Human Rights Watch, approximately 179,000 nursing home residents are being given medicine which is not intended to treat the illness they have. Antipsychotic drugs such as aripiprazole, olanzapine, and quetiapine are used to manage psychosis. Individuals suffering from delusions, hallucinations, paranoia or a disconnection from reality are generally given these medications as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The problem is that about 179,000 nursing home residents being given this medicine do not have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

Many of the residents being given these medications have Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia which antipsychotics are not approved to treat. Even more disturbing, antipsychotic drugs come with a "black box warning" from the FDA.  Black box warnings are the strictest labeling requirements that the FDA can mandate. These warnings are used to call attention to serious or life-threatening risks associated with the medication. The black box warning on antipsychotics states that they increase the risk of death in older people with dementia. The study also found that antipsychotic drugs were administered to residents without their informed consent. The purpose of using antipsychotic medications for residents who do not require them is often to make dementia patients “easier to handle” in understaffed facilities.

Researchers focused on six states, including California and Texas, which have the most skilled nursing facilities. They used publicly available data, along with hundreds of interviews with residents, families and state ombudsmen, the officials who deal with complaints about long term care facilities. Although there have already been measures to reduce the prescription of antipsychotics in nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have called for an additional 15 percent reduction by 2019 for those nursing homes that are still overusing the dangerous drugs.

Chicago, IL Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers

If you or someone you love is being mistreated in a nursing home or you are concerned about his or her safety, contact an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. Call 312-535-4625 for a confidential consultation with Schwartz Injury Law today.

 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/05/583435517/risky-antipsychotic-drugs-still-overprescribed-in-nursing-homes

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm107976.pdf

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