Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

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By Matthew Davey  a personal injury attorney who has represented clients for over a decade, covering a wide array of issues from car and bicycle accidents to nursing home abuse cases.

The decision to move a loved one into a nursing home or an assisted living facility is deeply personal and emotional. Often the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is made when a loved one can no longer care for themselves or appropriate care can no longer be provided at home. When the decision to move a loved one to a nursing home is made, there are many factors that are considered when choosing an appropriate facility.

Although factors such as location, certification and cost are important; one of the most critical factors is your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being. Choosing a facility with appropriate activities and resources to ensure your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being is critical for your loved one and your own peace of mind.

Residents of nursing homes require specialized care because of various health issues; including Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Oftentimes, nursing home residents struggle with the advanced effects of these diseases, including agitation, out-bursts and even aggressive behavior.

In the past, nursing home facilities used physical restraints when residents became agitated or aggressive. More recently, nursing home facilities have turned to antipsychotic drugs to manage the behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s or Dementia in residents.

While antipsychotic drugs have proved to be successful in managing the symptoms of various illnesses such as schizophrenic disorders, anxiety and bipolar disorder; it has been shown that nursing home facilities have abused, actually, overused antipsychotic drugs to manage residents with diseases that cause undesirable behaviors.

In fact, a recent study by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has shown that the national average of nursing home residents given antipsychotic drugs is 17.4 percent. Hawaii was reported as having the lowest number of nursing home residents given antipsychotic drugs with only 7.63, whereas Louisiana had the highest number of residents given antipsychotic drugs with 22.25 percent.

Other states fall in between those percentages, Wyoming and New Jersey have some of the lowest percentages and Illinois and Mississippi have some of the highest percentages.  Also reported was the use of antipsychotic drugs administered “off-label”, meaning given to nursing home residents without a prescription.

Never hesitate to speak-up and/or report it any time you suspect that a loved one may be receiving either too much or too little medication, or if you believe that your family member is receiving medication that he/she should not be receiving.