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Elderly Nursing Home Residents with Dementia Are Being Overmedicated at Startling Rates

Posted on in Nursing Home Abuse

Illnois nursing home abuse attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are generally populated with older individuals and people with disabilities. Some residents have physical disabilities and decreased motor function while others are afflicted by mental disability or illness. Many residents suffer from both mental and physical limitations, making them especially vulnerable to illness or injury. Understandably, nursing home staff occasionally have to restrain nursing home residents in order to protect the resident from himself or herself. Things like bed rails or lap cushions can be used to ethically restrict a resident’s movement. Chemical restraints like sedatives may become necessary in extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, a new study shows that many nursing homes are dramatically over-using chemical restraints for nursing home residents with dementia.

Major Report Shows Extent of Chemical Restraint Abuse

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently presented its annual Public Service Award in recognition of the Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.” This report includes extensive data collected from over one hundred nursing homes regarding the misuse of antipsychotic medication like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa in nursing homes. Medications such as these are designed to treat major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, these medications are being prescribed to elderly residents who do not have one of these disorders as a means of sedating them. Even worse, these antipsychotic medications have been found to nearly double the risk of death in elderly patients.

The report estimates that a staggering 179,000 nursing home residents are chemically-restrained with unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each week in the United States. Residents who were given antipsychotic drugs described the effects as “powerful.” One woman explained that the pills made her sleep all day while another said they made her a “zombie” with “no personality.” Experts say that the overuse of antipsychotic drugs can have devastating consequences to elderly individuals’ health and quality of life.

Over-Restraint Is Abuse

Using antipsychotic medication to sedate nursing home residents for staff convenience is not only unethical, it is unlawful. Excessive restraint violates federal law and can lead to worsened mental and physical wellbeing of vulnerable nursing home residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility who has been unreasonably restrained, you may have a viable personal injury case. You and your loved one may be eligible for compensation. Speak with a qualified Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer as soon as possible. Call 312-535-4625 to schedule a free consultation at Schwartz Injury Law regarding your case today.

 

Sources:

https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/02/05/they-want-docile/how-nursing-homes-united-states-overmedicate-people-dementia

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/health/nursing-homes-dementia-antipsychotic-drugs/index.html

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