Nursing home residents across the country may be receiving life threatening medication. According to a recent NPR story, antipsychotic medications are currently provided to nearly 300,000 nursing home residents. Designed for the treatment of serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, antipsychotics are being administered to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by nursing home staff as a method to address unrest.
Providing antipsychotics and other psychoactive drugs for the convenience of staff is against federal law and FDA recommendations. The FDA has previously warned that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis have an increased mortality rate when using antipsychotic medication.
In 2011, a government study found that 88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia. The use of antipsychotics within nursing homes has reduced by fifteen percent since the study, but many nursing home residents may continue to receive antipsychotic drugs for the sake of staff convenience.
Nursing home resident’s family file lawsuit, alleging antipsychotic drugs caused death
Patricia Thomas, a former California nursing home resident, was a victim of improper antipsychotic prescriptions. Nursing home staff contacted her daughter, telling her that a doctor had ordered additional medication for Patricia. The daughter would then visit the nursing home and sign for the medication, never questioning the potency or effect of the drugs.
The family was unaware that Thomas received antipsychotic medication until she was discharged from the nursing home. Prior to her release, Thomas behavior gradually descended from energetic talking and conversation to wheelchair confinement and a lack of awareness of her surroundings.
After being discharged, Thomas’ medication list was provided to her family. She had been given a cocktail of drugs, including antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Haldol. Thomas’ daughter attempted to gradually take her off these antipsychotics as well as some other drugs, it was too late. Within two months of being discharged from the nursing home, Thomas passed away.
The Thomas family were subsequently filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the nursing home had committed a violation of informed consent. Eventually a settlement was reached, and the nursing home has since been required to change its practices.
What should I do if I notice signs of nursing home abuse?
Nursing home abuse is not limited to administering improper or dangerous medications to home residents. Abuse can be physical or emotional, and if you believe you have witnessed a loved one fall victim to nursing home abuse please contact us.
The attorneys of the Cochran Firm, D.C. have experience with nursing home abuse cases, and will work hard to resolve these claims in our clients’ favor. Our attorneys understand both federal and state laws protecting the rights of nursing home residents. Regardless of whether an individual experiences minor pain or if they suffer catastrophic personal injuries, our attorneys will provide their utmost attention. We believe that no amount of nursing home abuse can be tolerated, and that your loved one deserves to be treated with dignity and ensured a safe place to live.