Is Your Loved One Being Overmedicated by a Nursing Home?

November 28, 2015

If you have ever visited a nursing home, you may have seen residents slumped over in wheelchairs or on couches, napping in the middle of the day, and seemingly drugged.  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), one out of every four nursing home residents in the United States is on an antipsychotic medication – however, some may be overmedicated.

The problem is getting so bad that in December of 2014, a federal lawsuit was filed against two nursing homes in California by the United States government, which details multiple cases when these drugs were allegedly inappropriately administered to patients.  According to one resource, more than 300,000 nursing home residents in the United States are taking antipsychotic drugs, and more than half of them lack a medically accepted reason for being prescribed the drug they are being given.

Why Do Nursing Homes Overmedicate Patients?

Nursing homes that overmedicate patients do so for a number of different reasons.  In many nursing homes, there is just not enough staff to properly take care of all of the residents.  Healthcare providers in understaffed facilities are far more likely to makes mistakes when administering medication as they are often overworked, stressed, and fatigued.  In many cases, overmedicating is therefore unintentional.

In many situations, nursing home residents are also intentionally overmedicated.  This is especially true for demanding or uncooperative patients, as well as aggressive, angry or overly emotional residents.  Many nursing home facilities are just not staffed to provide a lot of individualized attention to the patients, and so they pacify the more difficult patients through the use of drugs, including anti-anxiety medications, anti-psychotic medications, and tranquilizers.  Some nursing homes take this a step further and embrace the idea of “chemical restraint” or the use of drugs to keep patients restrained and calm.

Red Flags That Your Loved One is Being Overmedicated

There will be some warning signs in most cases if your loved one is being overmedicated by nursing home staff.  If your parent or loved one begins having mood swings or unusual changes in personality or behavior, this can be a sign of overmedication.  If your parent or loved one is attempting to “hide away” from caregivers, that is another sign that something is wrong.  If every time you visit your parent or loved one, he or she is lethargic, sleeping, lacking energy, or excessively tired, this is a big indicator that overmedication might be an issue.  Finally, confusion, lack of responsiveness, and unexplained changes in health are all signs of medication issues that should be taken into consideration.

We Can Help You

If you are concerned that your elderly loved one is being overmedicated, either due to improper staffing or intentionally as a method of chemical restraint, call David Aylor Law Offices in Charleston today.  We know what the warning signs of overmedication are, and how to investigate the signs further.  Call or email us for a free consultation today, and let us help protect your parent or loved one.

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