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Unauthorized medication in a nursing home can be deadly

Our blog often discusses how Floridians trust nursing homes to adequately care for their loved ones. "Adequate care" can encompass a lot of different areas. Proper monitoring, nutrition, and hygiene are certainly a part of adequate care, but so too is resident safety and accurate and appropriate administration of medication. Though this may seem simple and obvious, far too many institutions fail to live up to the standard imposed on them, and innocent individuals are left seriously injured.

One ongoing problem in nursing homes is the improper use of antipsychotic drugs. According to recent studies, more than 80 percent of antipsychotic medications are used for purposes for which they are not intended. This misusage can be harmful and even deadly. In fact, Harvard conducted a study that found dementia patients who took antipsychotics were more likely, two times more likely, to suffer fatal results than those who took a placebo. Additionally, the FDA estimates that 15,000 elderly nursing home residents perish each year as a direct result of antipsychotic medication misusage.

Though many elderly individuals are given antipsychotics when they do not need them, even those who do need such medication are often given too much. Research has shown that upwards of 22 percent of antipsychotic recipients who need the drugs are given too large of doses or are put on a regiment that is too long. Again, these errors can cause devastating injuries and death.

If an individual or his or her loved one has been hurt by unauthorized medication in a nursing home, a legal claim may be made against the nursing home. By showing neglect, a victim and his or her family may be able to raise awareness of the issues, stop dangerous behaviors from continuing, and recover compensation needed to find closure and ease damages.

Source: Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, "Facts & Resources," accessed on Jan. 30, 2015

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