Nursing home abuse

medication abuse

Nursing Homes Abuse Drugs To Control Patients

March 5, 2018 by Carrie Capouellez

Medications for dementia patients and other patients struggling with mental illnesses have been instrumental in improving patients’ quality of life by helping ease symptoms. However, these medications need to be used responsibly because they do come with other health and safety risks. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Human Rights Watch discovered nursing homes across the U.S. are overusing antipsychotic drugs to control patients.

In a 157-page report, Human Rights Watch detailed how nursing homes are using antipsychotics on more than 179,000 residents without an appropriate diagnosis. Nursing homes are administering these medications without obtaining informed consent from residents or their families. Dementia can cause behavior problems, and nursing homes are wrongly using mental health medications to alter patient behavior to make it easier for nursing home staff to handle patients.

The use of a medication as a “chemical restraint” is incredibly cruel, illegal, and violates a patient’s rights. Facilities are required to inform residents of all treatment options and give them the opportunity to decline certain treatments. For patients who cannot make informed decisions on their own, this information should be shared with the person responsible for making medical decisions, usually a family member.

Although all nursing home residents are protected by federal regulations, enforcement of these regulations is challenging. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for policing and issuing citations for violators, but the agency is overburdened. Only a fraction of violations are reported, and even fewer are ever investigated. Because there are thousands of facilities, CMS cannot possibly inspect them all, leaving residents extremely vulnerable to elder abuse.

What Patients Can Do

Antipsychotics should not be used as a chemical restraint in nursing homes. If you suspect your loved one is being given antipsychotics without a proper diagnosis, you need to immediately contact a personal injury attorney. Nursing homes often try to cover up their mistakes, so only an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to put a stop to the medication abuse and collect the necessary evidence to hold the facility accountable.

At Lopez McHugh LLP, we believe our elders should be treated with dignity and respect. That’s why we fight aggressively for our elder abuse clients. If your loved one suffered medication abuse in a Philadelphia area nursing home, don’t wait to call us. We can help you and your loved put a stop to the abuse.

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